By Lethbridge Herald on May 15, 2017.
Lethbridge Herald — Standoff
Unless you’re a Blood tribal member, a new bylaw in effect will require you to have an entry or residency permit to be on the reserve.
The Kainai/Blood Tribe Trespass Bylaw, which officially became active on Saturday, is designed to apprehend drug dealers and complement ongoing police work, not to discourage business or turn away people from visiting, however, officials say.
On Monday, Chief and Council met with the media at the Shot Both Sides Building in Standoff to clarify questions being asked regarding the bylaw.
“The purpose of the bylaw is to eliminate the sale of harmful drugs to people on the reserve,” Blood Tribe Chief Roy Fox told a large gathering of reporters.
“It gives an indication to police who should be on the reserve rightfully. It’s meant for the ones who shouldn’t be here.”
The Trespass Bylaw is the latest effort to deal with the continuing opioid crisis, which has led to many deaths on the Blood Reserve and has the community in a declared state of emergency since March 2015.
“Some very serious drugs were killing our people. It’s still with us,” Fox said.
“One of the problems our policing personnel encountered was the inability to deal with outside individuals who were in the business because of the fact they could go about freely on our lands.”
The new bylaw gives authorities the right to remove anyone caught on the reserve without permission. Blood Tribe police will enforce by escorting out those without a permit. If other charges, such as those drug-related, arise from a stop, the trespass charge will be added to those charges.
Individuals and businesses will be required to show proof they have authorization to be on the Blood Reserve for specific purposes. Regular vendors, for example, will be charged $500 per company as an annual fee.
Blood Tribe administration employees will also be charged a $500 annual fee. Day entry permits for non tribal members are $25 per day, or $250 per person per month. A fill list of descriptions and fees is on the Blood Tribe website.
Blood Tribe members are not required to hold a permit, and those travelling through the reserve on the provincial highways, or those going to public events such as hockey games and rodeos, won’t be affected
Non-tribal members, including spouses and children of Blood Tribe members, can apply for residency permits for $25 per year.
“What’s more important: saving the lives of our people, our young people, or making it inconvenient or convenient for some of our friends and visitors who come?” Fox asked, adding many other First Nations have similar bylaws on their reserve lands.
“It will not affect the ability of others to come and visit us, to come and do business here. This is one way, as political leaders, we wanted to help with the total initiative of curtailing that trafficking of drugs. It’s killing many of our people; too many of our young people. I want to prevent the deaths of our people, especially our young people. If this is one way of helping out with the total initiative, I think it was needed.”
Fox said costs are minimal, and that officials are not concerned of alienating non-members from coming to the reserve
Coun. Dorothy First Rider, who serves on the Tribal Government Committee, said the fees will go to offset the operational, administration and enforcement costs of the new bylaw. She said the new revenue generated will not be substantial, and is not being considered as a “business tax.”
First Rider stressed the bylaw’s primary purpose is to minimize drug activity.
“We understand that we are not going to be able to eradicate illegal activity on the reserve,” she said. “But at least it will minimize illegal activity on the reserve.”
Before the bylaw was approved and implemented, Chief and Council sent notices out to tribe members for consultation and feedback.
“The majority of the individuals that are band members that provided feedback just wanted clarification,” First Rider said.
“They wanted additional information, which was provided. They wholly support it. They recognize the positive impact it may have in the community. We recognize the fact that we won’t get 100 per cent support. As is the case with any issue.”
One man, who preferred not to be identified by name, said he “hates” the idea.
“From what I’ve heard, I don’t agree with it,” he told reporters outside the administration building. “My neighbour is a white man from across the river. We communicate, we help each other. He’s a rancher and I’m a rancher. I don’t think a neighbour of mine has to get a permit to come to my house.”
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