SIKSIKA - Rising concerns about overdoses, drug trafficking and gun violence in Siksika Nation has band councillors taking a different approach to tackling crime in the community.
Siksika Nation councillor Eldon Weasel Child was one of 12 band council members, along with the chief, who took a voluntary urine and breathalyzer test Monday afternoon to communicate responsible leadership to the Siksika community, which council members say is suffering from a crystal meth crisis.
"It was a concern every person in the room had no trouble supporting," Weasel Child said. "We can talk all we want, but a good way to lead the people is to lead by example."
Siksika Nation member Lydia Brass said "it's about time" council took action against what she's sees as a serious problem amongst youth on the reserve.
"I grew up in a strict household, we never had these problems growing up," Brass said. "These kids are getting involved with drugs and alcohol, and it's ruining their lives."
Rhianna Many Heads said she sees teens at young as 12 doing drugs, adding that she's glad leaders in the community are trying more active methods to deter crime and drug trafficking in the area.
"I see kids so young taking drugs and it changes them - I can see it in their eyes," she said. "I think it's good they're doing this because there is a problem with drugs here. So many people do it."
Earlier this month, council members created a Siksika Crime Prevention Task Force after hearing numerous complaints from Nation members who said they feel unsafe living in an area where drug trafficking, gun violence and abuse seem to run rampant.
"It's slowly gotten to this point," said Coun. Reuben Breaker. "We've had consultation with the community about what we should do about drug dealers and crime prevention. We're trying to set an example by doing this."
Breaker added that council is in discussions about consequences as serious as eviction or banishment from Siksika if sufficient evidence of drug use or crimes are committed by a Nation member, but the logistics around the idea haven't yet been ironed out.
The chief and all 12 council members completed the voluntary drug test Monday afternoon with the hopes that youth and those suffering from addiction in the community will follow suit.