RCMP on the Piikani Nation are looking into the deaths of three women, between the ages of 30 and 60, believed to have died from fentanyl overdoses.
Few details have been released but Alberta RCMP public information officer Troy Savinkoff confirmed to Shootin’ the Breeze that the women were found deceased in separate instances on Dec. 25, 27 and 29.
While the deaths show signs of drug overdose, Savinkoff added, the final determination will be made by the medical examiner assigned to the case.
Piikani RCMP issued a warning Dec. 27, shared by Piikani Tsi Nii Ka Sin, of a “bad batch of drugs” in circulation in the area after the second death, adding that narcan administration did not appear to be successful.
On Tuesday, Chief Troy Knowlton and Piikani Nation council enacted a state of emergency for the community. Under the Federal Emergencies Act, Knowlton said it will allow measures to prevent drug use, improve emergency treatment and provide additional resources to agencies dealing with both drug abuse and its side effects.
The chief opened a Jan. 3 statement by saying, “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.”
Acknowledging that Piikani Nation is facing a long-term and complicated issue, the chief and council plan to take action by working with local RCMP to crack down on gangs and drug traffickers with augmented law-enforcement measures to tackle the source of the problem.
“It is my goal, and the goal of my council, to bring an end to or at least significantly reduce the availability of drugs,” Knowlton said, “and to prevent deaths among those who have had their lives ensnared by drugs.”
His words come just days after a Dec. 27 Alberta RCMP report stated that officers responded to over 100 per cent more drug overdoses provincewide from January to November 2023 than in all of 2022 — with fentanyl at the centre of most of the fatalities.
The RCMP statistics also revealed a nearly 25 per cent climb in naloxone deployments by its members in 2023 compared to the year prior.
An even more alarming figure: 1,262 opioid-related deaths occurred in Alberta from January to August of last year, 255 higher than in the same period of 2022.