People want alcohol ban revisited: Innu leader

James
James McLeod
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Controversy

Innu leader Simeon Tshakapesh attempted to set the record straight Wednesday, after controversy erupted over his move to repeal the Natuashish alcohol ban.

Hot on the heels of his election as chief, Tshakapesh asked the RCMP to stop enforcing the ban.

The police have said until the bylaw is repealed, they will continue to enforce it.

"I am very convinced that people want to revisit the bylaw," Tshakapesh said.

Simeon Tshakapesh

Innu leader Simeon Tshakapesh attempted to set the record straight Wednesday, after controversy erupted over his move to repeal the Natuashish alcohol ban.

Hot on the heels of his election as chief, Tshakapesh asked the RCMP to stop enforcing the ban.

The police have said until the bylaw is repealed, they will continue to enforce it.

"I am very convinced that people want to revisit the bylaw," Tshakapesh said.

"My responsibility is to listen to the people, and whatever people want to do, it's really up to the people. I don't make that decision."

Public meeting planned

There will be a public meeting March 23 to discuss the issue; Tshakapesh has invited the RCMP, Health Canada, Indian Affairs, both the federal and provincial justice departments, social services, Aboriginal Affairs and the media.

"You will be surprised," Tshakapesh told The Telegram, regarding what will be said at the meeting.

In 2008, the alcohol ban was narrowly brought in after a referendum vote of 76-74.

On Monday, when the rumblings of overturning the ban surfaced, the RCMP came out in favour of keeping Natuashish a dry community.

The RCMP said calls for service and the number of arrests in the community have dropped substantially since the ban was introduced.

"The numbers speak for themselves," said RCMP Sgt. Wayne Newell.

"The alcohol ban has had a positive impact on the crime rates."

As far as the RCMP is concerned, the ban is still in effect and will remain so until it is repealed following the same process as it came into effect under the federal Indian Act.

The motion must formally go through the band council, be recorded in band minutes and be registered with Indian and Northern Affairs, a process that can take more than a month.

However, Tshakapesh said the ban does not reflect the public sentiment; he said his predecessor, Prote Poker, had quashed opposition to the ban.

"For the last three years people were never given the opportunity to speak, so this is probably the first time that they're going to speak publicly and loud and clear."

jmcleod@thetelegram.com

Organizations: RCMP, Health Canada

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Recent comments

  • stinky
    July 02, 2010 - 13:23

    drinking is a white mans privilege just like slaughtering endangered animals to the point of extinction without repercusion of law is an aboriginals privilege

  • BONNIE
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER...

    DRINK IF YOU CAN BUT IF YOU CAN'T , FOR GOD SAKE AND FOR THE SAKE OF THE KIDS, GIVE IT UP AND GET A LIFE, AND STOP LIVING OF THE GOVT OF NL..

  • Patrick
    July 02, 2010 - 13:18

    As a former teacher of Davis Inlet, 1994-95, I strongly discourage lifting the ban. Despite moving to a new community, the temptations would be too great for some. The results could be catastrophic. I'll never forget having children coming to my door saying: Teacher, apple, orange, cookie please. My Mommy, daddy no dinner.

  • coda
    July 02, 2010 - 13:12

    Miss havin a swig do ya dear boy?

  • stinky
    July 01, 2010 - 20:08

    drinking is a white mans privilege just like slaughtering endangered animals to the point of extinction without repercusion of law is an aboriginals privilege

  • BONNIE
    July 01, 2010 - 20:02

    FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER...

    DRINK IF YOU CAN BUT IF YOU CAN'T , FOR GOD SAKE AND FOR THE SAKE OF THE KIDS, GIVE IT UP AND GET A LIFE, AND STOP LIVING OF THE GOVT OF NL..

  • Patrick
    July 01, 2010 - 20:00

    As a former teacher of Davis Inlet, 1994-95, I strongly discourage lifting the ban. Despite moving to a new community, the temptations would be too great for some. The results could be catastrophic. I'll never forget having children coming to my door saying: Teacher, apple, orange, cookie please. My Mommy, daddy no dinner.

  • coda
    July 01, 2010 - 19:48

    Miss havin a swig do ya dear boy?