Gwa’sala-’Nakwaxda’xw First Nations have “given notice” to drug dealers and bootleggers that they are not welcome in the community.
A written notice from the band’s governments has been circulating around the North Island on social media, stating, “To kick off the new year of 2018 the Elders council, Youth council & Chief and Council are making notice to the community.
“Moving from this day forward, there will be no tolerance for dealers and bootleggers. You will immediately be banned from our community.”
Katie Walkus, a communications specialist for Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw, said the notices were distributed Jan. 9 during “a community march — specific letters were given to specific people, but the community ones were given out to everybody.”
Walkus added the reason for the notices being given out was due to “young people being affected by drug dealing, so it was brought up by chief and council at first, but then they decided to include the youth and elders council as well, and we went door to door to show we were serious. Drugs have been a big problem for us in the last 10 or so years.”
When asked what will happen if someone is caught breaking the policy in the new year, Walkus confirmed they will “be able to collect their stuff after being asked to leave, but we haven’t had any problems with it yet, this is just the first step.”
She added they will be doing a follow up in the future, “just to see how everyone has reacted to the letters, if certain people are going to change their ways, and to get feedback from the community. My hope is that our community works together on this problem as one.”
Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw is a small, semi-rural community of about 500 on-reserve community members, with about 350 band members living off-reserve. The Tsulquate reserve is adjacent to the town of Port Hardy on the North-eastern tip of Vancouver Island. Prior to 1964, they lived as two separate tribes. The Gwa’sala people mostly lived and traveled around Smith Inlet and the surrounding islands. The ‘Nakwaxda’xw people were in Seymour Inlet, the Deserter’s Group, Blunden Harbour, and surrounding islands. In 1964 they were amalgamated with each other (and the Kwakiutl, temporarily) and forcibly relocated to the Tsulquate Reserve, far away from their home lands.
– with files from Gwa’sala-’Nakwaxda’xw website