Chief confronts alcohol abuse on reserve after tragic death
Destiny Rae Tom, 21, was found dead outside a home on the Nadleh reserve Saturday
A suspicious death over the weekend is spurring a First Nations community to confront rampant drug and alcohol abuse on the reserve.
Early Saturday morning, the body of 21-year-old Destiny Rae Tom was found outside a home on the Nadleh reserve near Fort Fraser, B.C.
Police aren't saying what happened at the home where Tom died, and are only calling the death "suspicious."
RCMP Cpl. Dan Moskaluk says when police arrived on Saturday, there was a man at the residence who knew Tom. He was arrested, but later released without charges.
An autopsy will be completed this week to determine the cause of Tom's death, but Nadleh Whut'en Cheif Martin Louie says alcohol may have played a role.
"We're a close and friendly reserve. And this to happen is... quite shocking to everybody," Louie said.
Tom had lived in the community for a few years with one of the band members, with whom she shared a young child, said Louie. There was a party at the home the night before Tom was found dead, he said.
Drug and alcohol abuse is a huge problem in his small community and Tom's tragic death could be a call to action to do something, he said.
"We're in a crisis situation for our young parents," Louie said.
"It's a small community with about 250 [people], if there's all of us here. And everybody knows everybody. There's about five different families," he said.
"Everybody knows who does these drugs, who sells. Everybody knows and nothing is being done. I want to start working closer to the RCMP to see what we can do to prevent these things," he said.
Louie said he wants to start meeting with police and other northern communities to come up with a strategy.
The Nadleh reserve is approximately 50 km west of Vanderhoof and 150 km west of Prince George along Highway 16.
With files from the CBC's Marissa Harvey