Leadership of Grassy Narrows First Nation has introduced a new law to control the amount of alcohol coming into the community, with enforcement from the Treaty Three Police Service.
In a prepared release, Grassy Narrows says the Alcohol Inagonigaawin is an inherent law that establishes fines for people who bring ‘excessive’ quantities of alcohol into the community. The amount that is considered excessive was not quantified.
“Alcoholism is a colonial illness. Prior to contact, our people lived healthy lives. Today, many of our members turn to alcohol to cope with the wrongs done to them,” said Grassy Narrows Chief Randy Fobister.
“Excessive drinking is a grave threat during the pandemic. Drinking parties are the primary cause for the spread of COVID-19 in our community. This law will improve the health and safety of our community.”
The community stressed that those who contravene the law will be brought before a community justice panel.
“Grand Council Treaty #3 will support the community justice imitative in partnership with Grassy Narrows,” states Grand Council Treaty #3’s Justice Director, Arthur Huminuk.
The Alcohol Inagonigaawin law was unanimously supported by a council of Elders, and was put into effect on April 29 after a community feast.
“I believe this may be the first time an inherent Anishinaabe law is enforced by a police service in Ontario,” says Treaty Three’s Chief of Police, Kai Liu.
“We are proud to support Grassy Narrows First Nation by enforcing this Alcohol Inagonigaawin. Our vision is to have a have a culturally responsive police service that is supportive of traditional Anishinaabe system of policing which recognizes and supports the sovereignty and inherent rights of Anishinaabe Nations”
Chief Fobister adds the community has reached out to Indigenous Services Canada and Indigenous Affairs Minister Marc Miller to address alcoholism in the community.
Currently, Grassy Narrows’ only support for alcoholism is the National Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program, formerly managed by Health Canada, which offers Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous meetings and transportation services.