St. Mary's First Nation introducing new late night security measures
Checkpoints will be installed to control who is coming into the community at night
St. Mary's First Nation is introducing new security measures that will prevent non-members of the Indigenous community, located on Fredericton's north side, from going into the reserve at night time.
Checkpoints and cameras are being installed at main intersections of the community, and drivers will be stopped and questioned by volunteers.
"It's just to identify who you are coming into the community and what is your nature of business coming inside our community," said Chief Allan Polchies.
The barriers will be set up on Paul Street and Howe Street and will be in place from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. seven days a week, starting next week.
Members of the community will be given a sticker for their vehicle so they won't have to stop at the checkpoints, Polchies said.
According to Polchies 1,300 people live in St. Mary's in 400 homes.
Polchies said the security procedures are only temporary and are being set up to prevent disruptions on the reserve late at night.
Polchies wouldn't give specific details, but said an incident last week caused a lot of anxiety in the community.
"Unfortunately they were being a menace into our community and, of course, it put everybody on alert," he said.
Polchies said the incident started out on the street and carried on throughout the community.
"We want to ensure that when members come to our community, that they are guests in our community and they need to respect our space, and it appears that that space is not being respected," Polchies said.
The band council announced the new safety plan after the incident in question, and it will roll out in phases, beginning with the barriers and checkpoints.
Polchies said the new measures will also to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 by limiting the number of people coming into the community.
"We are still in a global pandemic and this is just another measure where we continue to keep our members safe," Polchies said, adding that 72 per ent of the community have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Kevin Sappier lives at the corner of Paul Street and Dedham Street, where one of the checkpoints will be installed.
He's lived at the location his entire life, and said there has been a lot more traffic at night in the area in recent years.
"It's very busy," Sappier said. "I see a lot of cars going up and down the hill, sometimes they're racing… some people don't slow down and take time when they're driving — its' a hazard really."
"It's like 24/7 now," he said.
Polchies said he's not worried about sending the wrong message to people outside the reserve.
"We certainly welcome all of our friends, it's our friends that come and support our thriving businesses," Polchies said, stressing that it's the late night guests that the community is looking to monitor.
Polchies said the situation will be evaluated on a weekly basis to determine how long the measures will be in place.