August 4th, 2021

‘We are tired of losing our loved ones to the drugs’


By Lethbridge Herald on June 9, 2021.

Samantha Shouting holds up a photo of her daughter Simone, who she says died of a drug overdose earlier this week after being evicted from her home by Blood Tribe Housing three weeks ago. Shouting and Blood Tribe Elders Ron Scout Sr., Roger Prairie Chicken and Charlene Plume spoke at a rally on Wednesday addressing the communityÕs opioid and housing crisis. Herald photo by Tim Kalinowski

Tim Kalinowski – Lethbridge Herald

Community members of the Blood Tribe held a rally on Wednesday to call out the Blood Tribe’s leadership for not doing enough to support grassroots people during the opioid crisis, and leveled serious accusations that the same leadership is turning a blind eye to ongoing drug activity within the community.

Elder Ron Scout Sr., who is president of the Standoff Community Association, says he and others on the Blood Tribe have been reporting instances of alleged drug dealing at the local Bringing the Spirit Home Detox Centre to the Blood Tribe Department of Health and tribal leadership for over a year.

“We have a detox centre here in the community of Standoff like other detox centres in Alberta,” he told media representatives on Wednesday. “These detox centres are meant for people healthwise to get in shape, and then they are shipped off to treatment. It seems to me here in Standoff this detox centre is a roadblock for a lot of them.”

“I don’t see why our leadership isn’t doing anything to stop this,” states Scout. “That is not what you call a detox centre. These are some of the issues that have to be addressed soon by our leadership, and the Department of Health has to look into this detox, straighten it out, and clean it.

“It needs to be cleaned up, and the higher ups need to be looked into.”

Scout says he is reluctant to name names because he fears retribution from others within the Blood Tribe.

The Lethbridge Herald contacted the Blood Tribe Department of Health for comment on these allegations, but was told the department would not be able to comment at this time.

Elder Roger Prairie Chicken (White Buffalo Horn), who until this Tuesday worked with the Kainai Wellness Centre as the band’s crisis coordinator, says it is common for those who speak up about these types of issues on the Blood Tribe, like Scout, to fear retribution. Prairie Chicken reveals he has recently been fired for speaking up publicly about the housing issues on the reserve, and the matter is going before the courts.

“For voicing my opinions with the Lethbridge Herald on housing, for voicing my opinions for the rights of the Blackfoot people, I have been served unjust,” he says.

As the now former crisis coordinator for the Blood Tribe, Prairie Chicken says he compiled the true statistics the impact the drug crisis was having on Blood Tribe members compared to official “false reports,” and has previously shared them with chief and council.

“This year the highest number of Blood Tribe losses on the Blood Band book, not the province, not the federal, but the Blood Tribe: we lost 184 Blood Tribe members all 30 years and up, and it pertains to alcohol and opioids,” he states.

Prairie Chicken says those deaths occurred between April 2020 and March 2021, and about 57 per cent of overdose deaths came from illicit drugs, and the other half came from overprescribed legal drugs and alcohol.

Elder Charlene Plume adds that the drugs and the housing crisis on the reserve, with multiple evictions taking place at Blood Tribe Housing of addicted individuals accused of selling drugs, are fueling one another, and leading to more drug deaths.

“Instead of helping the people with their addictions, they (Blood Tribe Housing) are evicting the people out of their houses,” Plume says. “Where does that stand with the people? About eight or nine of the people they have evicted from their homes– they have passed away. They just totally gave up. They (Housing) need to start working with the people instead of not dealing with the problem, and kicking them out.

“We are losing too many people,” she adds. “Half of the time I am sitting at home, we see our neighbour drive by with his backhoe. He is the one who goes and digs up the graves. We don’t even know half of the time whose funeral it is. We are having funerals every day, it seems like. We are tired of losing our loved ones to the drugs.”

Samantha Shouting lost her daughter Simone to a drug overdose this week. The 25-year-old mother of one’s addictions were aggravated after Simone was evicted by Blood Tribe Housing, Shouting says.

“My daughter was evicted by Housing about three weeks ago,” confirms Shouting, who holds up a picture of her daughter for the media to see. “From then on before her death, she was hopeless. She had nowhere to go. How does someone recover who is an addict if they have no more home? Because of her eviction, she is gone now.”

Shouting was finally able to bring her daughter home to live with her, and they spoke just this past weekend about Simone wanting to seek treatment and get well again.

“Two days later I find her in my basement with the paramedics working on her,” Shouting remembers.

Shouting says despite the millions of dollars in provincial and federal funding coming into the First Nation to help with the drug crisis, her daughter never received the help she needed from anyone.

“They took her baby, and that was it,” Shouting recalls. “They had nothing to do with her. No social workers went and talked to her or anything. When she goes missing, I am the one who is looking for her. And everybody is just like: she’s an addict. No, she’s someone’s mother. She is someone’s daughter. Someone’s sister.

“I don’t want to see another mother have to go through this,” she adds. “I have to raise my granddaughter now. With all the money coming on this reserve, there should be better solutions, more humane solutions, but no one is using them, or going out to help.”

The Lethbridge Herald sought comment from the Blood Tribe on all the issues raised by Shouting, Plume, Scout and Prairie Chicken, but was told there would be no official comment at this time.

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Dennis Bremner

I have heard this more than once. Seeing it in writing now makes one realize the level of “fakery” that is occurring on the Blood.
It must be frustrating to watch this fiasco unwind , while listening to the Preachers who are the ones ignoring their own youth pretend righteousness and understanding.
The Tribe Leaders have enjoyed an immunity that may be coming to an end! Of course we will now get the spin that its their political adversaries and not “the people” which may work for a short period, but very very short period of time. If an outsider criticizes them they pull the “Nation within a Nation” and “we run our own show”! If an insider criticizes them, they blackball them in their own community! Its a pretty good life until the day “the Nation within a Nations own people” have had enough!
This letter among other complaints I have heard will start to put the needed pressure on the “Nation Leadership” to realize they are about to lose control of their Narrative! How can they prove a false narrative? Numbers, if you have faked the numbers you become more than suspect for further fakery! Your people are finally standing up, its going to be a real tough summer for you because trying to rewrite the narrative will no longer work.
Perhaps the City of Lethbridge will realize the “Partnership” has some holes in it. The biggest of which is if the Blood/Kainai Leadership can make the problem disappear in amplitude by making things so tough on their own people that they shift the problem to their “Partner”…..perhaps the Partner will now wake up!
All is not well in La La Land!
Strangely I have never seen the Sage Clan support this narrative, yet they know this is happening, so why is that? This is the most interesting of all considering what there message is within Lethbridge? I wait on baited breath for their comment on this issue!
It took great courage for the contributors to this letter to speak, I congratulate them, remain strong, stand up for what you believe and others will join you! The proverbial Cat is now out of the Bag!

Last edited 1 month ago by Dennis Bremner
Montreal13

Martin Heavyhead,when he ran for city council here in Lethbridge said at a public forum,”The City of Lethbridge does more for the Indigenous homeless than their own tribe does”. This was years ago . The public forum was at the public library.
The city knows these people are homeless before they appear on our streets and why. But you won’t get them to admit that, as it makes for a harder sell job. Which is: the huge poverty industry and all it’s baggage gets another shot in the arm from city and provincial funded programs supported by ….taxpayers. It’s a huge scam job. Al Capone gave to charity too.
Of course there is no comment from Blood Tribe housing. Who is going to make them accountable? The federal Liberals cancelled the audit requirements that were hoped for by many. I guess the homeless don’t vote? Too bad.
As for the Tribe council, perhaps they are not available for comment as they are away in their luxury homes in Calgary or their vacation homes in Mexico.

Montreal13

Who is the biggest fools here? Our City Council or the taxpayers who support them?

pursuit diver

Well said Mr. Bremner! Would you consider running for City Council? We need a knowledgeable person on Council to fight for our city, our streets, our neighbourhoods, our parks and to put an end to the preventable loss of life we life on our streets, that occurs because we allow it to happen! You always seem be right on target! We need leadership! Think about it!

Last edited 1 month ago by pursuit diver
bladeofgrass

Mr. Bremner, I ditto Pursuit Diver, Please Run for Council 🙂

Seth Anthony

Yet again and again, there is great concern about their extremely high addiction rate, but absolutely no questioning of the cause, let alone a solution. It’s constantly just treat symptoms while ignoring the cause.

Last edited 1 month ago by Seth Anthony
pursuit diver

The issues, the causes are numerous. The biggest problem in my mind begins right in the homes of these communities. There used to be a saying “a strong country begins in the home” and I firmly believe that.
We all have choices in life and we need to understand that there is no reason why someone should be on the streets of our city, with all the support programs currently available. People come from war-torn countries to Canada with only the clothes on their backs, running for their lives from true tyranny and constant conflict, with the debt to the Canadian government for transporting them here to be paid back. They have language barriers often facing racism, but within a few years they have paid back the debt to the government and have made homes for themselves, a vehicle, jobs and their family members are appreciative.
Why is that? Could it be their drive to survive? It is all how they think, what they believe and not living the ‘victim mentality’, but believing in a ‘victor mentality’.
The issues that cause addiction, poverty, high violent domestic violence rates and high violent crime rates, suicides and gangs all begin in the home, learned behaviours (nurture). Not one was born to be a violent person, a drug dealer, a prostitute, etc., they were all born wanting the same things we all want, to be loved, to succeed, to have a home.
We must all be careful what we are teaching and exposing our children to as the grew and learn, from their first day!
The issues in these communities have been growing for decades as their anger for non-indigenous grows. The issues cannot be resolved short term!
Police have their hands bound in many cases and are met with a wall of silence from the very people they are trying to protect, so how can they investigate and get the evidence needed to end the criminal acts with a court system also has issues?
These brave people need to supported and applauded for standing up and saying ‘enough’!
The biggest mistake the police made in this country was to say ‘we are not going to win this war on drugs’, throwing up their hands and watching organized crime flourish! A PM that is considering legalizing opioids due to pressure from the BC government, which is pushing hard! Are they nuts? Opioids are what caused the problem in BC 20 years ago, ‘heroin’ and their great idea of supplying injection sites and now free prescribed opioids in machines to addicts has only caused the problem to grow exponentially in the past 18 years!
Have we seen the light yet? Have we finally realized that we need to be tough on drug dealers, go back to saying NO to drugs and getting addicts treated in programs that actually work is the answer? Getting the people who need treatment for mental health issues is the answer? The costs of allowing the problem to grow have proven to be many more times expensive due to all the extra services required to support homeless/addicts and the penal sytem/judicial system/law enforcement/EMS increases.
The Blood Tribe, along with many other indigenous communities need to get their youth to work, get them involved in life, and they need to allow police and the courts to get tough on drug dealers.
Just one of many ideas – They need homes/home renovations so educate groups of their young people in all the trades, focused on rebuilding their communities housing, with a clause that they have to work on those communities for a 5 year term for their ‘practical’ to get their papers. They will benefit in multiple ways, and be given a chance in life and hopefully mentor to others!
We cannot institute changes in these communities and have tried many times, only to have blow up in our faces! It has to come from within!
They have to say we are going to change!

Last edited 1 month ago by pursuit diver
bladeofgrass

I just wanted to say that I am so Proud of these people!! If I knew there was a rally I would certainly be there, for the truth will set them free. Keep going! You have Many supporters that you don’t even realize.



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