News / Winnipeg

Manitoba chiefs call for solution to drug crisis, citing crime spike

The state of emergency was launched in response to rising substance abuse and the resulting growing crime rates and increases in suicide.

A collective of Manitoba First Nations have declared a drug crisis.

Andy Dean Photography / Vancouver Staff

A collective of Manitoba First Nations have declared a drug crisis.

A council of chiefs in Manitoba has declared a state of emergency and is calling on government action to combat a drug crisis in southern Manitoba.

The Dakota Ojibway Tribal Council says it has seen a rise in substance abuse, crime rates and suicide in the seven First Nation communities it represents.

Methamphetamine, crack cocaine and prescription medication are among the problem drugs infiltrating the area.

The council of chiefs has also announced a drug crisis strategy with Dakota Ojibway Tribal leadership, community representatives, and department representatives. The strategy takes a four-prong approach, focusing on education and prevention, treatment, advocacy and support and enforcement.

“Our goal is to collectively address the underlying issues and causes related to the drug crisis, and to implement strategies to overcome this dilemma facing our member First Nations,” said Chief Kenneth Chalmers, chair of the Dakota Ojibway Tribal Council.

He also called on the provincial and federal governments for help, noting there are about 20,000 people in the affected communities.

“That amount of people are worth it for the province and the federal government to fund culturally appropriate treatment centres,” he said.

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