New By-law Allows Chief and Council to Banish a Drug Dealer
Moose Cree First Nation – First Nation communities are in many ways on the frontlines of the battles against drugs and seeing first hand the impact in the communities that drugs have on the people.
Moose Cree First Nation is a First Nations community located near Moose Factory Ontario. Moose Cree First Nation Chief Mervin Cheechoo leads the community.
This week, the Chief and Council passed a new by-law that addresses the issues of drug dealing in the community. This by-law, similar to one recently passed by Pic Mobert First Nation on July 1, 2020, will allow the Chief and Council to remove drug dealers from the First Nation Reserve.
Statement from Moose Cree
Drugs are hurting our people and our community. The ongoing and serious problems caused by the illegal drug trade on Moose Factory Island have been a subject of deep concern to the Membership and residents for many years. In 2017, after the issues had been repeatedly raised and discussed in the community, our Elders and other MCFN members provided a clear mandate for Chief & Council to develop laws that address drug-dealing and specifically remove drug dealers from the Moose Factory Island reserve. Chief & Council have heard the community’s concerns and are taking action.
Effective immediately, Chief & Council have enacted a bylaw addressing the transportation, sale, and distribution of illegal drugs on Moose Factory Island. The new bylaw gives Chief & Council the authority to issue Community Protection Orders to protect community health and safety. Community Protection Orders may limit access to the reserve by any MCFN members or non-members who participate in dealing drugs on the reserve. Where necessary, Chief & Council may banish such drug dealers from the reserve, both members and non-members.
The new bylaw is a serious response to a very serious problem. It should serve as a clear message to the MCFN community and reserve residents that drug-dealing will not be tolerated on Moose Factory Island. Any residents who see or suspect that drug dealing is occurring should inform the police. Any residents who believe that a Community Protection Order may be necessary to protect themselves or others should contact Chief & Council.
Moose Cree Chief & Council are committed to addressing and eliminating the harms caused by drug dealing and look forward to further engagement with the MCFN community on this important issue.
Plain Language Summary of the Community Protection Order By-Law
- The bylaw gives Chief & Council the authority to issue “Community Protection Orders.” A Community Protection Order is an order issued by Band Council Resolution to protect the Moose Cree First Nation (MCFN) community from the harms caused by drug dealing.
- Community Protection Orders allow Chief & Council to do what they need to do to protect the MCFN community. Among other things, they allow Chief & Council to stop a drug dealer from coming onto the Moose Factory Island reserve, remove a drug dealer from housing on reserve, or banish a drug dealer from the reserve entirely.
- To make a Community Protection Order, Chief & Council must have at least as much evidence as police need to lay charges. This standard is called “reasonable and probable grounds” and it requires real evidence rather than just suspicion. A Community Protection Order is an act of Chief & Council that does not depend on whether police have actually chosen to lay charges or whether there has been a criminal conviction, although those are factors that Chief & Council may consider.
- Chief & Council may consider any credible information before making a Community Protection Order. In particular, they may consider any risk of harm to the MCFN community or community members and whether there are ways other than banishment that they could prevent that harm. Chief & Council may also consider the effects of a Community Protection Order on the person who would be subject to the order, as well as neighbours, family members, and other residents or community members.
- Chief & Council must give any person who could be subject to a Community Protection Order a chance to respond and tell his or her side of the story before making the order.
- A Community Protection Order can last for up to one year. After making the order, Chief & Council may later extend it for any length of time but only after giving the person who is subject to the order another chance to respond and explain anything that may have changed since the order was made. Chief & Council must also consult with any residents and community members who may be affected by the order before extending a Community Protection Order.
- A person who is subject to a Community Protection Order may write to Chief & Council to ask for reconsideration anytime after the order is issued. If Chief & Council extend the order for longer than one year, a person subject to a Community Protection Order may ask for reconsideration again up to one time per year. Chief & Council have up to 60 days to consider any reconsideration request. During that time, they must consult with any affected residents and community members. Chief & Council must then decide either to withdraw the Community Protection Order, to leave it as it is, or to change it.
- Any MCFN member or non-member who violates the terms of a Community Protection Order will be considered a trespasser on the Moose Factory Island reserve and may be removed from the reserve by police. Violators may be fined up to $1,000, put in jail for up to 30 days, both fined and put in jail, or charged with other criminal or provincial offences.