Hay River South
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My statement will be in English. I have received numerous concerns from residents in Hay River with respect to the illicit drug trade and drug use in the community. Throughout the pandemic, we have heard stories of persons travelling back and forth across the border who are known drug dealers or persons known to be running drugs. How do we know? It is because our community is small, people talk, and most everyone knows everyone. With enough information, one is able to cut out the fiction and put together some semblance of truth of what is really happening on the ground.
We have heard how, throughout the pandemic, this government has been providing these dealers and runners with repetitive 14 days of free accommodation and meals while they worked their trade. To add insult to injury, with support from the NWT Housing Corporation, these dealers are provided with public housing. Why? Because they are on the housing list and we have to be fair with allocation of units. Input from housing board members with local knowledge is not taken into account because policy trumps general knowledge.
These dealers are targeting our Indigenous youth. Why? Because Indigenous youth are more exposed to recruitment and organized crime. All we have to do is look at the court docket and see who is filling our correctional centres. If this is to change then we have to provide Indigenous youth with positive role models; with a positive home life; with a positive learning environment; with safe places to participate in extracurricular activities; with protection from dealers beyond no contact orders; with timely access to mental health and addictions support; and with meaningful jobs.
Mr. Speaker, the local drug trade today is much different than that of the past. It is organized; it has financial resources; it has weapons; it has an effective recruitment process; it is not troubled by authority; and it does not care who it hurts. Why do our youth want to belong in such an organization? It provides a false sense of acceptance, an acceptance not received at home, among peers, or by society. It is a need of belonging which we, as family and society, have failed to provide.
The community of Hay River has lost a number of its youth to drugs and the drug trade, and we continue to let this happen. As families mourn, they ask: what are the police doing? What are the courts doing? What are our local and territorial politicians doing? Where are the supports? If there was ever a time to get serious about this issue, it is now. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.