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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
Home News Witchekan Lake FN honours RCMP for efforts to remove drugs and alcohol from the community

Witchekan Lake FN honours RCMP for efforts to remove drugs and alcohol from the community

Witchekan Lake FN honours RCMP for efforts to remove drugs and alcohol from the community
RCMP file photo

Leaders from Witchekan Lake First Nation, the FSIN, and the PAGC, where among those who honoured the Spiritwood RCMP detachment at a special ceremony on Tuesday.

First Nations leaders recognized and thanked seven officers for their role in seizing multiple firearms, including three prohibited weapons, as well as a large stash of drugs and a sum of cash in early March. Police also made four arrests during the investigation.

“Our small community has seen an increase in drugs and gang violence since the pandemic started, and we are thankful these officers were able to put a stop to it before something tragic happened,” Witchekan Lake Chief Anne Thomas said.

“We need to protect our families and children and those who are most vulnerable, our elders.

“We want to thank the RCMP and their officers for listening and working with our leadership and assisting us in taking these drugs and weapons out of our community. We will continue to work with them to ensure that this never happens again.”

FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron was among the First Nations leaders in attendance. He said the recent drug bust was an example of what happens with RCMP and First Nations work together to protect the community.

“We hope that all police agencies that work directly with First Nations communities throughout Saskatchewan follow suit and work with First Nations leaders towards having drug and gang-free communities,” Cameron said in a media release. “We want to celebrate and honour these officers for putting their lives on the live for the safety and well-being of Witchekan Lake. These officers prevented a possible tragedy by listening and working with the leadership and fostering relationships with community members.”

The incident occurred on March 8, 2022 and resulted in more than 60 charges against the four people arrested. Thomas said Tuesday’s celebration was a positive day for the First Nation, and for everyone trying to root drugs and alcohol out of their communities.

Thomas said she used alcohol to cope with issues she was scared to talk about, but has been sober since October 2015. She said many communities are burying more loved ones because of drugs and alcohol than old age. She viewed Tuesday’s ceremony as a positive one to recognize the RCMP

“We need to stand together united, to teach our little ones how to survived instead of coping with drugs and alcohol,” she 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, but today is a positive day as we honour our partners, the RCMP.”

Thomas said her son-in-law and his father were among those bringing drugs into the community. She strongly condemned their actions, and said the community needs to support healing.

Assistant commissioner of RCMP F Division Rhonda Blackmore was also on hand for the event. She thanked the community for the warm reception, and echoed words from First Nations leaders who said there needs to be a strong partnership between the RCMP and First Nations communities.

“I’m so very proud of the work of our officers and the cooperation and support shown to us by Witchekan Lake First Nation and the FSIN,” Blackmore said during the ceremony. “To be standing here today seeing our members acknowledged during this ceremony is very much a moment of pride for me.”

Blackmore said RCMP members in the service area have worked tirelessly to build and improve relationships with people they serve in the community. When those efforts succeed, she said the positive impacts will spread beyond the community.

“We want these types of investigations and resulting seizures to send a message to all those involved with criminal networks,” Blackmore said to a round of applause. “We will investigate. We will continue to disrupt, and we will dismantle illegal activity in Saskatchewan. We will not tolerate illegal trafficking of guns and drugs on First Nations, or in any community in Saskatchewan.”

Grand Chief Brian Hardlotte and vice-chief Joseph Tsannie were on hand representing the PAGC. He said it was important to acknowledge the good work done by officers in protecting the community.

“Many, many times we put them down, but today we are lifting them up,” Hardlotte said.

Witchekan Lake First Nation is located roughly 147 west of Prince Albert. The Spiritwood RCMP officers in attendance were Const. Brad Smailes, Const. Diandra Collister, Const. Jerith Archibald, Const. Jeremy St. Germaine, Cpl. Donavan Kajner, Cpl. Sol Puentespina, and Sgt. Sebastian Andrews.