Listuguj First Nation banishes domestic assault suspect
Band council exiles man from community after video depicting domestic violence is shared on Facebook
The video shows a woman and another, smaller person running out of a house onto a front patio, nine or 10 steps from the ground.
A man running after them pushes the taller person down the stairs. The grainy video is shaky, and pans away, then back to the unmoving figure at the bottom of the stairs. The smaller figure runs down and crouches beside her.
Some years ago, a couple of community members were asked to leave and they haven't returned.- Darcy Gray, chief of Listuguj First Nation
A dog barks throughout the 15-second clip, and a man can be heard yelling.
Days after the incident in the video, the Listuguj Mi'qmaq government enforced a bylaw that gives the band council the right to remove an individual from the community.
The man in the video was banished from the reserve.
"When we had a discussion it was brought to our attention that we had a trespass bylaw that went back to 1968," said Chief Darcy Gray. The bylaw applies to non-community members.
Community has to feel safe
The man in the video, whom Gray would not identify, is not a band member but lived for years in Listuguj, a reserve in Quebec, across the bridge from Campbellton.
"We heard major concerns from our community about the safety and well-being of our community members and they wanted Chief and council to take some action to improve and ensure a greater level of safety for our community members."
Gray confirmed the bylaw enforcement was a response to community reaction to the domestic violence in the video.
Council members were unanimous in their decision June 7 to enforce the bylaw, which is also under review. The chief and council are looking at various types of intervention and their success in the past in Listuguj.
A file on the case has also been submitted to the Crown prosecutor's office in New Carlisle, Que.
'You lose a bit of connection
The trespass bylaw has been enforced several times before, according to Gray.
Non-members can be cut off from Listuguj First Nation services, and therefore lose connection with family and friends.
"There's also a bit of shame that comes with that," said Gray. "Not being here, you lose a bit of connection.
"Some years ago, a couple of community members were asked to leave and they haven't returned."
The man depicted in the recent video published on Facebook has children living in the community.
If he returns, he will be removed by the Listuguj Police Department.
"Any violence against any other person in our community is too high," said Gray. "It shouldn't happen."
Plans to extend bylaw
Gray and council plan to broaden the trespass bylaw to include community members, too.
"Community members brought concerns that people are dealing prescription drugs in our community," said Gray. "That's something we'd like to take a stand against as well."
Gray could not offer a timeline for changes to the bylaw in Listuguj.
Other First Nations communities in New Brunswick have enacted similar bylaws. Eslipogtog and Tobique passed anti-drug-trafficking resolutions in April as a result of several fentanyl-related overdoses in nearby Esgenoôpetitj First Nation.
"I did talk to the chief about it and asked that he make a recommendation," drug counsellor Leo Bartibogue of Esgenoopetitj said at the time. "He's going to address it with the council."
Tobique and Elsipogtog's resolutions were passed two days after four overdoses occurred in Esgenoôpetitj. Both communities' resolutions warn that people trafficking fentanyl and other drugs will be banned.