Haida Nation rallies against drug dealers

  • Jun. 4, 2008 11:00 a.m.

Submitted by Beryl Parke, (Coordinator for Healthy Communities and CHN Masset rep)–Council of the Haida Nation representatives Beryl Parke and Arnie Bellis walked alongside members of Healthy Communities Society and concerned citizens in an anti-drug rally June 1 in Masset and Old Massett.The anti-drug march started at the office of Healthy Communities next door to the village office in New Masset and the protesters walked down Main Street, around the town past the provincial Liquor Store and down to the Village of Old Massett.Arnie Bellis’s truck led the march with signs posted on front saying “Honk for Drug Free Communities.” Other signs said “Say No To Drugs; Drugs Kill; True Warriors Don’t Sell Drugs; Is Drug Dealing an Honest Days Work? Our Choice for you is Drug Free; We will stand up with anyone who reports a Drug Dealer.”Professionals working in the community, parents, children and recovering addicts all marched in support of Drug Free Communities on Haida Gwaii. The anti-drug group has been organized for the past two. The campaign has included bi-weekly meetings at Howard Phillips Hall, marching in the Harbour Days Parade in Masset, advertising against drug dealers on the local television station and handing out of anti-drug material to the youth in the communities around Masset.The day of the march saw spectacular sunshine and many community members were out enjoying the good weather. The protesters were blessed with a large audience and many passersby honked and hooted in support of this life-saving cause. The anti-drug group wanted to march on June 1 because of the monthly welfare cheques being issued. The group has learned that the first and 20th of each month are two of the busiest days for the drug dealers. Information received by many working for the anti-drug campaign is that if a cheque is postdated for the next business day (for example, Monday) the dealers will cash them immediately to give drug-using adults and parents the chance to buy their drug of choice. It appears that cocaine dealers make up to $10,000 per day selling the drug and possibly more on these days.The protesters marched from New Masset to Old Masset and slowed down in front of suspected drug dealers, particularly the cocaine dealers’ homes. Horns were honked, drums pounded to let them know we know who they are. Some of the dealers were home and peeked out, but didn’t show faces to crowd. Other dealers were brazen enough to follow along and check out who was walking against them. A drug transaction took place in front of one of the homes passed by the group. The group in the home was still partying from the night before. Unfortunately the person who witnessed the transaction did not know the individuals’ names to report them.What is important to note, however, is that it became a clear reality that these dealers feel they have the power to do this in broad daylight as they have been getting away with this to date. This only encouraged the group to continue to fight the battle against the dealers. The Haida Nation and neighboring leaders and community members want the drug dealers to understand that this type of behavior is not going to be tolerated. The anti-drug group will be continuing to meet, strategize and march against this illegal activity. The next step planned is letters to Wally Opal inviting him to come to the islands and meet with the Haida Nation and other municipal officials and concerned citizens to talk about how the Attorney General’s Office can work more closely with the Nation and Haida Gwaii citizens in improving the justice system so it works more effectively for the communities on Haida Gwaii.Local drug dealers take money from the parents of our Island children – take food from their mouths – by selling to the parents they are impacting our children’s lives. This will not be tolerated on Haida Gwaii any longer. We want the dealers to know that support is available for them if they want to change. They are citizens in the community as well and we will not only stand up against them, but also provide support for them to change. Haida Nation leadership with the Council of Haida Nation, band councils of Old Massett and Skidegate along with local mayors want changes with the ineffective process of bringing drug dealers through the system changed. The system of remanding them continually allows for the dealers to go back out to the community and sell drugs. The community wants to have more involvement in how the dealers are dealt with. The next anti-drug rally will be June 20.

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