Keeping reserves dry isn't easy: P.A. tribal council vice-chief
Hatchet Lake First Nation is among a number of dry reserves in Saskatchewan
Prohibiting alcohol is something the Standing Buffalo First Nation is considering in the wake of a homicide on New Year's Day — but other reserves in Saskatchewan have already taken that step and say it's not easy to do.
Joseph Tsannie, vice-chief of the Prince Albert Grand Council, is a member of the Hatchet Lake First Nation in the province's northeast, which became a dry reserve years ago.
Tsannie notes it is a challenge to keep alcohol out. He's currently working with the grand council on a strategy to reduce bootlegging in the north.
To make that happen, it will take co-operation among First Nations, police and the provincial government's liquor authority.
"The challenge is still there. You know, when a person has the will they'll always find a way to bring in … the liquor and drugs into a community," he explained.
Many underlying issues must still be addressed, but there is also a need for better facilities, he said.
"I know some of our First Nations within our communities — within the tribal council — are looking at building a treatment facility to help people with those addictions and to become healthy," he said.
The provincial government has loosened up liquor regulations in recent years and some people have raised concerns this will generally increase the availability of alcohol.
Tsannie said he doesn't want the government to make it easier to get alcohol in the north.
To that end, he invited Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming officials into Hatchet Lake and had people share stories of how alcohol affected their lives.