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Fourth First Nation in Manitoba declares state of emergency

May 22, 2024
Chemawawin Cree Nation

Chemawawin Cree Nation has declared a state of emergency because of violence. Photo: Jared Delorme/APTN. 

APTN News: The Chemawawin Cree Nation (CCN) is the fourth First Nation community to declare a state of emergency since the start of this year, as CCN leaders said they are dealing with an ongoing crisis of violence that includes the recent killing of a 14-year-old girl.

Last week, CCN Chief Clarence Easter and the community’s band council said in a notice they have declared a state of emergency in the community located 450 km north of Winnipeg and are putting in new guidelines that residents must follow or face punishments that could include being evicted from their homes, or possibly banished from the community.

Council said they were forced to take action due to increased violence and illegal activity.

Last week, RCMP confirmed that a 14-year-old girl from the community died from what police said were severe injuries and that a 19-year-old man, also from the community, has been charged with second-degree murder in the girl’s death.

As well, police said a 32-year-old woman was killed in the adjacent community of Easterville on May 4, and a 35-year-old woman was also found suffering with life-threatening injuries and two girls ages 13 and 14, have been charged with second-degree murder and attempted murder.

CCN band council says violence and an increasing number of dangerous weapons getting into the community are fueling the crisis, and machetes, knives, bear spray, and guns are prohibited. Any person found in possession of any of those weapons or found to have harmed anyone with any of those types of weapons will be subject to “banishment.”

The community has also put a curfew in place. Residents aged 17 and under must be in their homes between 10:30 p.m. and 7 a.m., while those 18 and over must be home between midnight and 6 a.m. All vehicles must be parked during those times unless they are being used by essential workers.

CCN is also taking steps to monitor who is coming into the community, as all vehicles entering must comply with security checks or be denied entry, and any non-members coming in must declare their business at community checkpoints, show proper identification and fill out a visitor form.

Any non-members found to be in CCN without proper reason will be immediately escorted from the community, the notice said.

The Winnipeg Sun reached out to Easter for comment on Tuesday, but did not receive a response.

On May 4 chief and council of the Tataskweyak Cree Nation (TCN) said they were declaring a state of emergency due to increasing violence, drugs and illegal activity in the community, and putting new rules in place similar to those now in place in CCN.

A state of emergency was also called on February 26 in the Long Plain First Nation (LPFN) near Portage la Prairie, as leaders in that community said a rash of physical and mental health issues were leading to increasing drug abuse and drug overdose deaths and “catastrophic harm.”

“We are losing people, and sadly we are losing young people,” LPFN Chief David Meeches told the Winnipeg Sun on Feb. 27.

And a state of emergency was called in the Peguis First Nation on April 30, as Peguis Band council said they have been dealing with worsening mental health and addiction issues brought on in large part due to ongoing flooding in the community and a lack of permanent flood protection, and were seeing a rise in self-harm among young people in the community.

Story by Dave Baxter, a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

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