Earlier this year Onion Lake Cree Nation (OLCN) was under a state of emergency after a string of gang-related violence and drug activity. Now, Onion Lake RCMP and Onion Lake Cree Nation joined forces to release gang awareness prevention resources.
The Gang Awareness and Prevention (GAP) project was developed and implemented by an RCMP Community Program officer in consultation with the community including chief, council, elders, youth, parents, former gang members and service providers.
“Gangs create and thrive on fear and intimidation in communities,” said Laili Yazdani, Crime Prevention/Crime Reduction Unit’s Community Program Officer.
And to tackle gangs it takes a community effort, she added.
“The Cree word, māmawikamātotān, which means working together for our communities, reflects the collaboration and dedication needed to complete this project.”
OLCN Chief Henry Lewis said it’s never too late to inspire and motivate youth.
“I am very honoured and proud to be Okimaw of Onion Lake Cree Nation when I hear about projects like the GAP project. Hiy Hiy in the spirit of empowering our future leaders.”
Information booklets and posters are available in English, French, Cree, Michif, and Dene.
There are five videos with each one focusing on specific messages for community members.
Carlin Carter-Mountain, a youth featured in one of the videos, encourages residents to watch the videos.
“They’re fun and you’ll feel included in something that everyone can work on as a team.”
An information booklet was developed specifically for parents and caregivers. Delia Waskewitch wants parents to focus on decision-making skills.
“Teach children to make decisions. Learn from kindness, follow your heart, control your body, and listen to your mind and spirit.
A group of youth also did a musical theatre workshop with Persephone Theatre out of Saskatoon. They performed the No More Hustling musical for their parents, high school and community.
Resources will be released on the Onion Lake RCMP Facebook page and the RCMP YouTube channel. They are also available by request by contacting the Crime Prevention/Crime Reduction Unit www.facebook.com/OnionLakeRCMP/
The GAP project is funded by the Government of Saskatchewan’s Rural Crime Innovation Fund.
OLCN declared a state of emergency in January 2020 after a gang-related violence and drug activity threatened the safety of its residents. OLCN set up check stops and roadblocks. They increased their security force from seven to 36 and went from two running security units to nine. They boarded up more than a dozen suspected meth houses and drove out suspected gang members.
OLCN used more than $1 million of its own money for additional support for housing and health care to deal with its addiction and gang crisis.
Earlier this year OLCN submitted a request under Jordan’s Principle to support their health model. OLCN met with Indigenous Services Canada to discuss funding for Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care, housing and the state of emergency.
To manage the surge in capacity for mental health supports the federal non-insured health benefit program committed to three additional full-time employees for local therapists and operating expenses on OLCN. In addition, the federal government’s Substance Use and Addictions Program (SUAP) confirmed at least three years of funding for mental wellness and detox.
OLCN bought a 49-person dormitory this spring from a camp service out of Alberta. The trailers provide immediate safe homes for those wanting to get out of gangs and break addictions.
OLCN is on the Saskatchewan-Alberta border located about 50 kilometres north of Lloydminster, Sask. Currently, about 2,408 of the band’s 4,003 members live on the 57,737 hectares of OLCN.