Hobbema residents still fear gang violence
Residents calling on Band Council to use bylaw to evict gang members
Days after three teens pleaded guilty in a shooting that killed a five-year-old boy in their community, people living on the troubled Hobbema reserve in central Alberta said gang violence remains a constant fear in their lives.
"People are afraid - very," said Theresia Boysis.
The 67-year-old elder uses some string and a large kitchen knife to barricade her front door shut every night. She says it is the best she can do to protect herself from gangs in the area.
Just a few houses from Boysis’s home is where Ethan Yellowbird, 5, was killed when his grandfather’s home was sprayed by gunfire in July.
Wednesday, three teenagers pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the shooting. RCMP investigators suspect that the trio have gang affiliations.
They are scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 21.
Boysis says the problems in the community are complicated by the fact that gang members live on the tight-knit reserve.
"I've talked to gang members right here where I've hugged them and I just feel sorry for them. I just want to cry."
No one evicted under new reserve bylaw
The Yellowbird shooting led people on the reserve to take an unusual step -- a bylaw that would allow the Council to kick troublemakers off the reserve if an application is made by 25 band members.
The measure passed in January, but has not been used to evict anyone yet.
Emily Soosay says drugs and time in jail led her to join a gang for nearly a decade before she left the life last yet.
She thinks the Band Council needs to use the bylaw to get gang members off the reserve.
"Its gotta be more legit, you have to step up to the plate and say look here, this is our community and we are going to fight back," she said.
Council member Kirk Buffalo says the bylaw hasn’t been used because they are worried about possible legal challenges from people who are being evicted.
"We're getting our legal opinions and we are getting all of our people in place," he said.
Buffalo says they expect to see more action within the next three months.
"Will there be evictions? Yes in the future I do believe there will be."