An Alberta First Nation that has been plagued in recent years by drugs and gang violence took an unusual step this week — the chief and council all took drug tests.
The idea came from Mario Swampy, a councillor on the Samson Cree First Nation.
At a meeting on Tuesday, Swampy said he made a motion that was seconded by chief Kurt Buffalo and approved unanimously.
Two days later, the chief and councillors were tested for drugs.
"There's a lot of negativity when it comes to First Nations," Swampy said. "It's no secret that we struggle with a lot of social dysfunction.
"We at the leadership level, we have to set an example for our members, for our administration, for our people."
As word spread through the community, Swampy said, people in band management and administration, and members themselves, asked if they too could get involved.
"I thought that was really an awesome step in the right direction," he said, "for others within our nation to kind of step up to that and say, 'We want to be an example also.' "
Results of council's drug tests will be revealed to band members.
"There's a high expectation on leaders to be leaders," Swampy said.
"I think the best way we can combat a lot of the negativity we see and hear in the media, is just by reversing that and demonstrating through by our actions that … there's a lot of positive stuff going on on First Nations, and we shouldn't shy away from demonstrating that as well."