Alberta First Nation Declares State of Emergency in Response to Deadly Drug Poisoning Crisis

A state of emergency has been declared by the Piikani Nation in southern Alberta after a recent spate of drug poisoning deaths. The declaration was made by Piikani Nation Chief Troy Knowlton and council on Tuesday, marking a significant response to the ongoing drug crisis in the community. The deaths have prompted the Nation to take action, recognizing the severity of the situation and the need for immediate measures to address the crisis.

Chief Knowlton characterized the drug crisis as a “public policy challenge of the century,” emphasizing its widespread impact on communities across the nation. In response to the recent overdose deaths, the Nation is making grief and mental health counseling services available to those affected. Additionally, the Alberta RCMP confirmed three drug overdose deaths in less than a week in late December 2023, highlighting the urgency of the situation.

The impact of drug use in the tight-knit Piikani community has been deeply felt, with internal supports such as wellness checks and Narcan kits falling off for those struggling with addiction. The state of emergency is aimed at implementing substantive measures to prevent drug use, improve emergency treatment, and provide additional resources to front-line agencies.

The Piikani Nation is also working closely with local RCMP to crack down on the source of the problem, particularly targeting gangs and drug traffickers. This multi-faceted approach includes encouraging community members to come forward with information about suspected drug trafficking, as law enforcement efforts are key to addressing the crisis.

An elder of the Piikani Nation highlighted the need for better policing and emphasized the link between chronic poverty and the drug crisis. Poverty is identified as a significant underlying issue contributing to criminality, substance abuse, and other related challenges. Addressing poverty and providing opportunities for meaningful employment are seen as potential solutions to mitigating the impact of the drug crisis in the community.

The Piikani chief acknowledged the long-term and complicated nature of the drug poisoning crisis, emphasizing the need for immediate action to address the situation. With a focus on providing tangible support to affected families and taking proactive measures, the Nation is committed to addressing the challenges posed by the drug crisis.

In conclusion, the state of emergency declared by the Piikani Nation in response to the drug poisoning deaths underscores the urgent need for comprehensive and coordinated efforts to address the crisis. The multi-faceted approach includes measures to prevent drug use, improve emergency treatment, and enhance law enforcement efforts to crack down on drug trafficking in the community.