Temporary alcohol ban ends in Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation

Community protection law to be presented April 17 will set out rules, enforcement and penalties for bringing in alcohol and illegal drugs

An alcohol ban instituted by Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation (NCN) after the Feb. 20 beating to death of 18-year-old Marcus Spence has been lifted, the First Nation said on Facebook April 11.

The ban ended at midnight April 10.

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“The purpose of the alcohol ban was to reduce violence, abuse and public intoxication out of respect for the bereaved families,” said a memorandum from chief and council. “During this time, we have seen a decrease in violence and alcohol-related injuries; however, we have also witnessed an increase in illegal bootlegging. Community safety remains a top priority for chief and council but we recognize that alcohol bans do not solve the root problems of addictions. We are committed to focusing efforts on more services and programs that our people need.”

The memo also said that chief and council will present a community protection law April 17 which will set out the rules, enforcement and penalties for bringing alcohol and illegal drugs into the community. Until that law is brought in, chief and council said NCN citizens are expected to follow existing limits on how much alcohol can be brought into NCN and refrain from public intoxication and disturbances. They will also be subject to check stop searches by First Nation Safety Officers and Nelson House RCMP. Those who exceed alcohol limits or are intoxicated in public will face confiscation of all their alcohol, detainment by RCMP and might be subject to NCN’s alternate payment methods policy, under which people who commit various offences “will be notified in writing that any income assistance benefits for which they qualify will only be available by an alternate payment method for a minimum period of two months for the first incident, and four months for all subsequent incidents until the person has met the conditions outlined and agreed to in writing by the person and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and that any breach of the written agreement will result in an extension of the alternate payment methods for at least an additional two months, such as selling their purchased products.” Instead of receiving income assistance in cash, violators will receive purchase orders redeemable at Giant Tiger, Thompson Family Foods, Three Rivers Store and the OT Gas Bar, as well as any other businesses NCN makes arrangements with. Under the terms of the alternate payment methods policy, purchase orders can only be used for a maximum of one carton of cigarettes per month or four packs of cigarettes biweekly. The business where the purchase order is to be used or the recipient may be told that it may not be used to purchase certain products such as Lysol or Gravol.

The temporary alcohol ban resulted in a 50 per cent drop in violent crime in NCN, the RCMP told the CBC in March.

Spence had just found out that he was going to be a father a few weeks before he was killed, according to his mother Kelly Spence. 

Four men from Nelson House – Waylon Alfred McKay, Patrick Linklater, Gerald Lee Spence and Russell Sinclair – were arrested in February and early March in connection with the killing.

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