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Friends, at the outset what Tsiigehtchic citizen Lawrence Norbert has to say about the bootleggers there can easily be taken the wrong way.

Every decent minded person, sober or not, in a small Northern town wants to keep the place clean and safe.

Norbert’s call to get to the root causes of addictions, for instance, is a very mature way of looking to the problems we have.

A couple of columns back here in News/North I made strong support for people like Dene film-maker Raymond Yakeleya, about his take on community corruption.

Mainly for a lack of education we usually end up with leaders of important offices with but a Grade 10 learning level.

What with the extreme poverty in the North’s smaller places, people have to deal with the high cost of living, making some, even elders, turn to bootlegging.

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These are otherwise good people who simply see no other way to make ends meet.

Officials like the RCMP pretty well have to deal with the fallout, the ‘symptoms’, as the Tsiigehtchic mans points out. Like our neighbouring Kabami Tue, Colville Lake, the problem gets more complicated, with no enforcement officers stationed there.

Even with an RCMP detachment it often takes years for any arrests of bootleggers.

Meanwhile people are being medevac’d off, regular as the mail to get patched up.

Many come back in a coffin. Our graveyards are full of these grim reminders.

In my own experience, over 25 years ago, even the local social assistance counsellor outright laughed at me, when I mentioned needing treatment for my drinking.

After a month at Poundmaker’s Lodge, as Norbert mentions, I had to deal with an alcoholic community, with almost no support system in place.

In the transition from being land-based Indigenous Peoples to now the stress of life in town, we also have to deal with inter generational residential school trauma.

People are still basically living in fear of losing their souls to the devil. One sign of this is that when anything happens, even to the point of murder, it’s said to the be work of God.

It isn’t, friends!

These are social, man-made problems that we can deal with, given the right way to think it through.

For now, I am thankful for the people like Tsiigehtchic’s Lawrence Norbert who go out of their way to provide an honest light to the dark of addictions. Mahsi, thank you.

Antoine Mountain

Antoine Mountain is a Dene artist and writer originally from Radilih Koe/Fort Good Hope. He can be reached at www.mountainarts.com.

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