KATIE WALKUS PHOTO                                A community march was held Jan. 9, warning drug dealers and bootleggers they aren’t welcome on the Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw reserve.

KATIE WALKUS PHOTO A community march was held Jan. 9, warning drug dealers and bootleggers they aren’t welcome on the Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw reserve.

North Island First Nations threaten drug dealers and bootleggers with banishment

Port Hardy’s Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw warns dealers and bootleggers they are not welcome

The Gwa’sala-’Nakwaxda’xw First Nations have served notice: drug dealers and bootleggers are not welcome.

A written notice from the Port Hardy band’s governments has been circulating around the North Island on social media.

“To kick off the new year of 2018 the Elders council, Youth council & Chief and Council are making notice to the community.Moving from this day forward, there will be no tolerance for dealers and bootleggers. You will immediately be banned from our community.”

Katie Walkus, a communications specialist for Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw, said the notices were distributed Jan. 9 during “a community march — specific letters were given to specific people, but the community ones were given out to everybody.”

Walkus said the notices are due to the number of young people being affected by drug dealing.

“It was brought up by chief and council at first, but then they decided to include the youth and elders council as well, and we went door to door to show we were serious. Drugs have been a big problem for us in the last 10 or so years.”

Walkus confirmed that of someone is caught breaking the policy they will be able to collect their stuff after being asked to leave.

“We haven’t had any problems with it yet, this is just the first step,” she said.

She added they will be doing a follow up in the future.

“Just to see how everyone has reacted to the letters — if certain people are going to change their ways — and to get feedback from the community. My hope is that our community works together on this problem as one.”

Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw is a small, semi-rural community of about 500 on-reserve community members, with about 350 band members living off-reserve.

Their website states that prior to 1964, members lived as two separate tribes. In 1964 they were amalgamated (and with the Kwakiutl, temporarily) and forcibly relocated to the Tsulquate Reserve, far away from their home lands.