Peguis First Nation is cracking down on illegal drug use — issuing a formal memo threatening to evict anyone caught consuming or dealing drugs in the community’s housing.
“Anyone using or selling illegal/non-prescription drugs will be evicted from the band owned units and may lead to banishment from the Peguis First Nation,” a notice from chief and council reads, dated May 3 and posted on the First Nation’s website last week.
“These actions will not be tolerated,” the memo reads. “The Peguis First Nation is taking steps to stop the use of drug trafficking on the reserve and will continue to work towards a drug free community.”
The decision to take a “community wide stance” was prompted by an increase in methamphetamine and opioid use in recent months, according to chief Glenn Hudson.
“It will push those sellers out of the community, or at least put them on notice, that we’re not going to tolerate it,” Hudson said.
Council has already identified several people dealing drugs out of the units, although at this point no one has been evicted, he said.
He said people who are caught will no longer be able to use Peguis’ housing authority services, which assigns band-owned housing and also helps provide down payments on homes.
The memo is also addressed to the local RCMP, who Hudson said will help enforce the policy.
Council previously named and evicted drug dealers
Peguis, with a population of more than 10,000, is Manitoba’s largest First Nation, located about 190 kilometres north of Winnipeg.
Hudson said the increasing drug problem is leading to health and safety issues, adding that break-ins and thefts have become more common in recent months.
“Some people are very unstable,” he said.
This will not be the first time council has removed people from their community for drug dealing.
Last year, chief and council passed a resolution to evict three specific residents who were not members of the First Nation, but had been living in the community.
Those three people are still banned, he said.
“These people are visitors to our community and obviously if they decide to reside in the community with others, and they continue this practice, then we aren’t tolerating it,” he said.
Hudson said they’ve seen an increase in people who aren’t members of the First Nation trafficking in illegal substances.
“We know the drop points. We see cars there all the time, where people don’t live … and these types of exchanges are happening,” he said.
“We’d like to eliminate that if possible.”
Evictions will apply to community members too
Hudson said the ban will also apply to members of Peguis First Nation, adding that addiction services are being offered to people who need it.
“We are open to helping them deal with those issues, and have had those discussions in the past. But if people are unwilling to work with us, and continue to carry out these illegal practices, then we have no alternative,” he said.
“It’s a stand we have to take as community leaders, but also we want to ensure we have a safe community for the people of Peguis.”