By Eraina Hooyer
The Samson Cree Nation is continuing to execute no tolerance for drugs and gang violence within the community. The Samson Cree Nation Safe Community Task Force responsibility is to examine, analyze and make recommendations on ways to reduce violence and deal with the reasons behind the violence to help make a safer community.
The Task Force was formally authorized by Chief Marvin Yellowbird and is made up of 10 representative members from the community. Chair of the Task Force Koren Lightning-Earle believes that their strategies will make a difference and has already seen a lot of support of the goal for a safer community.
“We are getting a lot of good response from the community members,” said Lightning-Earle. “It’s a place people can come to, to let us know the issues. We want the community to let us know what they want, we can’t do it without everyone’s input.”
Lightning-Earle believes that the success is with the community members and that the input of the people is vital to addressing and finding solutions to the issues of violence.
“It’s something that is specific for the problem,” said Lightning-Earle. “It is made up of members that live in the community. It’s coming from the people and that’s important. This way ideas can be more innovative and real. The community sees what happens on a day to day basis and will be effective rather than hiring a consultant.”
The Samson Cree Nation has been exercising methods of reducing violence over the past two months and has implemented a curfew bylaw for youth under 18 years old without an adult, a walk against violence and clean-up days.
The Samson Cree Nation has also been able to address some of the short-term initiatives given by the Task Force. There have since been 29 condemned homes, some recognized for gang activity, destroyed and there has been much clean up of graffiti around the community as well.
The RCMP has also increased their activities and patrols in the community and strictly enforces the curfew. Additional RCMP members have been brought into the RCMP detachment to assist the main staff members.
“Our goal is for the short term and the long term to decrease gang violence,” said Lightning-Earle. “It may not be tomorrow but I think it will soon be a very different place.”