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For Immediate Release January 3, 2024

The following can be attributed in whole or in part to Troy Knowlton, Chief of the Piikani Nation

“The situation affecting our nation is not unique to us. Drugs, especially opioids and fentanyl, may prove to be the public policy challenge of the century, affecting every community from coast to coast. However, in a tight-knit community like ours, the impacts of drugs, especially addiction and tragically death, particularly among our youth, reverberate pain throughout our entire nation.

In the last week, we have seen several deaths. These deaths will be marked with sorrow throughout the nation. To all those affected, we are making services available in the form of grief and mental health counselling.

But it is my goal, and the goal of my council, to bring an end to or at least significantly reduce the availability of drugs and to prevent deaths among those who have had their lives ensnared by drugs. That is why, on January 2nd, 2024, Piikani Chief and Council initiated a state of emergency. This state of emergency is based on our reading of the federal Emergencies Act section 17(1). This includes several substantive measures to prevent drug use, improve emergency treatment, and provide additional resources to agencies dealing with both drug abuse and its side-effects. It also includes working with local RCMP for diligent and augmented law enforcement measures to crack down on the source of the problem, namely gangs and drug traffickers. Of course, any measures taken under the state of emergency will be exercised in accordance with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and will be carefully monitored to limit any impact on the rights of law-abiding Piikani citizens.

Again, this is a long-term and complicated issue. But we believe the way to start mediating the problem is to start now. We have done that. My personal sympathies go out to the families of the youth who have been taken from us. They can be assured, however, that we will offer more than sympathy. We are acting.”

Media inquiries to:
Morten Paulsen