The Peguis First Nation in Manitoba is introducing strict new measures foranyone caught using drugs or selling them in the hopes of controlling a growing drug problem on the reserve.
Garry Sinclair, the reserve's illegal drug prevention co-ordinator, said he has watched as drug dealers brazenly sell their wares.
"At the Peguis mall, you will see transactions happening right outside the main doors," he said.
Crack cocaine in particular is causing problems the reserve has never seen before, such as prostitution and drug-addicted babies, Sinclair said.
"We can't look the other way anymore. We need to face it head-on."
"We need to do something now, or if we don't, it'll be that much more difficult to do something about it later on."
Sinclair is importing a new anti-drug bylaw from the Fisher River First Nation, where hehad held the same position.
The bylaw imposes strict penalties onpeople caught using or dealing drugs and requires drug testing for all band employees.
Nora Murdock, who recently finished a study of the Fisher River's three-year-old drug strategy, said the biggest challenge has been getting help forindividuals caught using drugs.
"Not enough services, that's definitely a problem," she said.
"It's not just a Peguis issue," added Sinclair. "It's an issue for all First Nations within Manitoba and other provinces, as well."
More than 3,400 people live at Peguis, which is about 160 kilometres north of Winnipeg in the Interlake area of the province.