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Sask. First Nation honours RCMP for drug bust in community

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Witchekan Lake First Nation -

Chiefs from across the province are recognizing the work of Spiritwood RCMP following a crackdown on alleged drug dealers on Witchekan Lake First Nation.

“Today is a positive day as we honour our partners the RCMP,” said Witchekan Lake Chief Anne Thomas.

Nine members of the Spiritwood RCMP detachment were each bestowed a starblanket, eagle feather and sweetgrass during a public recognition ceremony hosted by the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN).

“It’s something that really motivates my members to continue to do the hard work,” said Spiritwood Detachment commander Sgt. Sebastian Andrews.

Saskatchewan RCMP say on Mar. 6, officers located two suspicious vehicles on Witchekan Lake First Nation. Four adult males were arrested.

A search warrant was then obtained and executed at the residence. Seven guns, three weapons, 32.5 grams of crack cocaine, 23.5 gram of methamphetamine and 105 grams of an unknown substance were seized along with drug trafficking paraphernalia, weapons and cash, according to police.

Andrews says, “old-fashioned police work” led to the arrests.

Thomas says her son-in-law and his father were arrested and charged in connection to the drug bust.

“Do I condone it? Of course not. I’d rather support healing,” said Thomas.

She has served as chief since 2016 and says drugs and alcohol use has led to violence, poor mental health, poverty and social issues in their community. With only 814 people, she says the problems are noticeable.

“Our small community has seen an increase in drugs and gang violence since the pandemic started,” Thomas said.

“We’ve seen the hurt in our communities and we’re burying more loved ones because of alcohol and drugs instead of natural causes like old age.”

She says the band council has worked with other agencies to address the issues through support groups, counselling and education.

The Chief of Little Pine First Nation Donny Ironchild was one of 20 chiefs at the ceremony. During his address to the crowd, he said he’s struggling to help people caught up in addictions on his First Nation.

“Saturday we just buried a beautiful young, teenage girl because of drugs. Monday I attended another funeral in Moosomin because of addictions,” said Ironchild.

He says recent drug seizures in his area by North Battleford RCMP are appreciated.

FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron, which represents 74 First Nations in the province says the cooperation between the Spiritwood RCMP and Witchekan is a positive relationship that he hopes other areas of the province will follow.

“These officers prevented a possible tragedy by listening and working with the leadership and by fostering relationships with community members,” said Cameron.

He says the relationship between RCMP and First Nations has been strained in the past and this is a positive step forward.

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