‘Critically important’ to deploy resources to First Nations that declared state of emergency: Eby

An aerial view of the Gwa’Sala-Nakwaxda’xw First Nations.

B.C.’s premier says it’s “critically important” to deploy more resources to North Island First Nations that declared a state of emergency after 11 people died in the first two months of the year.

Gwa’Sala-Nakwaxda’xw First Nations near Port Hardy says of its roughly 600 residents, 11 people have died in the first few months, many due to drug or alcohol-related incidents.

READ PREVIOUS: North Island First Nations declare state of emergency after 11 deaths in 2 months

In the state of emergency declaration, the Nations specifically called out inaction by the RCMP, which has committed to deploying more resources to the community.

David Eby, B.C.’s premier says there have also been requests made to Island Health to increase supports.

“I understand the First Nations community has made specific requests to Island Health around liaison workers and social workers, healthcare workers to support work in the community for people struggling with addiction and vulnerable to overdose,” Eby said in a news conference. “My understanding is that Island Health is in conversations with the Nation about that.”

The First Nations Health Authority is also working to provide additional support, according to Eby.

Karine Vetvutanapibul, a spokesperson for Indigenous Services Canada, says the ministry is in touch with the Nations to determine how to support the community.

“We are deeply concerned and saddened by the state of emergency declared by Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw Nations,” Vetvutanapibul said in an email statement. “The loss of so many valued members of the community is heartbreaking and Indigenous Services Canada is in contact with community leadership to provide support to members during their time of grief.”

Laura Brougham

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