May 29, 2008

Dealing With a Demon

(Note edit)

In a departure from my usual political polemics and diatribes, I want to move into different areas in my blog.

Up until a few months ago, I lived on the reserve.  I've NEVER(edit) been a drinker of alcohol and never done any illegal drugs.  It’s a confident choice I made from an early age, quickly learning the deadly effects of that lifestyle.  I still partied with my peers, brothers, sisters, cousins, and friends from my community.  But after a while, everyone knew who I am, and that I don't have any want or need to do drugs or drink, and from what their drunken honesty has told me, some of them respect me for it.

I recently talked with friends about how I want to create change in my community through alternative means.  The traditional formats for change have been exhausted and fail.  Most are rooted in colonial ideals or colonialism.  This ranges from the political-weaving of the band council, to "economic development" type of actions.   Over the years, I've come to notice that drug and alcohol addiction are directly related to how happy and accomplish the person feels.  You have a job you love, friends and family who support you, and meaning in purpose in your life, you’re less likely to find those things in an addiction.  With parent abandonment, intergenerational alcohol addiction, high unemployment rate, feelings of inadequacies related to "Education", and a multitude of other reasons, a lot of people turn to drugs and alcohol.  Even the "successful" ones who make the money have it.

Across all our reserve, drugs are a real demon.  It's an ugly disease destroying so many good people, and wreaking havoc on the life of a community.  I talked with a friend who confided in me that they think the drug problem is becoming worse and thinks something should be done about it.  He talked about a few past initiatives to deal with this issue, some of which I participated in. 

With that, I'm inviting you all to a dialogue about these issues.  On this blog, I want to open it up for comments, ideas, thoughts, and proposals to actively work on something.  I'm intending to start the discussions and see where it takes us, to move forward and hopefully address this problem, and the wider issue that begs us to look deeper in to.

Here is a few ideas’ that I've seen, heard of, or thought of:

Community Action:
A few months, or years ago, a 30 or so people from my nation took the streets on the reserve in a rally to put an end to the drug dealers.  Back then, we knew of 6 or 7 within the reserve I lived on.  That was to the help of a few youth who used to be a user but wanted to create good change in the community.  Elders, children, youth, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, all walked with our drums and ancient songs, through the village to let the community know someone was doing something about it.  It was taken a bit further when a few politicians from the band council joined us.  

With our drums, we walked around the village to every house that we knew was dealing drugs.  At 11AM on a Saturday morning, the drug dealers had to wake up to hearing our roars of chants and traditional songs.  We told them we didn't want it anymore, and that they either had to get help and stop dealing, or leave.  The pressure from the politicians helped a bit in that respect.  The faces on some drug dealers was shocked and shaken.  In all possibility, some of then could of been high when we got there.  But it was a kind of direct action that was necessary, and needed.

It’s now been a year or so since this action, and there are more drug dealers. On the street I grew up on, there is approximately 5 drug dealers. It’s becoming so accessible to the young people, and anyone who wants it. There are also other parts of the village where I imagine there is just as many drug dealers.

Hereditary right:
I read in a Nuu-chah-nulth newspaper a while back where the Tribal hereditary chief for one of the tribes, went to the drug dealers house with a group of supporters, telling them they can choose to stop dealing, and attended a treatment program, or be expelled from the community. Using a right he had as the head chief of the tribe, he could expel them from the community.

A similar initiative occurred to end the violence against women in Nuu-chah-nulth communities. They marched through every community along the coast, although they didn’t go the doors of the abusers. (THAT would be powerful.)

Reward for Snitching:
When I traveled to Tulalip for the canoe journey a few years back, I noticed one of the signs they have posted in their community. Posted on the sign, it said, “10’000$ reward for anyone who can lead to the arrest of a drug dealer in the community.” I imagine people would easily rat the drug dealers out for 10’000$.

Rivers Idea:
I think the community march with our traditional songs is powerful.  It speaks volumes.  But let's get larger numbers.  Let's get everyone who wants and end to this problem to come out.  And let's not just do it in one of 7 com
munities, but all, day after day, or perhaps week after week.  Instead of 30, let's get 300 or 700.  Imagine that!  Drug dealers waking up to 500 people singing our spiritual songs, asking them, tell them, we want a healthy community. 

If they are one of our people, we tell them we will do everything we can do help them with their addiction, or employment or education or life.  We will provide the help and resources to help them become a healthy happy person again.  They can choose to stop dealing and drugging, or be forced to leave the community, and have all their privileges will be stripped.

We put a time on it, say 5-10 years, when they can come back, and be welcomed back into our community.  If after their first strike, they deal again, we remove them for good.  Complete expulsion from the community.  But there's a question in this: how do we enforce the expulsion, and what the consequences of they do come back after they have been removed.

I think direct action from a community level is powerful to anyone or anything, especially in numbers. What ideas or proposals do you have? Perhaps it doesn’t have to be a “I can solve the problem” kind of idea, but maybe, something that can we start from to work on together.

Thanks you


Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom)