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Tag: Troy Knowlton

Piikani Nation logo of buffalo on drum with feathers, on red background

Three Piikani Nation members lost to apparent drug overdoses

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.

 

Ad for Creekview Dental Hygiene clinic in Pincher Creek

 

Every Child Matters billboard unveiled by Piikani Child and Family Services

To coincide with this year’s National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Piikani Child and Family Services unveiled a new billboard proclaiming a powerful message: EVERY CHILD MATTERS.

Located near the Piikani Travel Centre along Highway 3, the billboard was officially revealed during a touching event last Friday.

The new sign is dedicated to all Piikani Nation members who were impacted by residential schools, and reaffirms the message to every child in the community that they matter.

“When the 94 Calls to Action came out, it was really evident that Piikani needed to have some sort of acknowledgement, a way to let everyone know that we are part of Blackfoot territory and we were affected by residential schools,” says Mary Plain Eagle, child intervention manager with PCFS.

Mary is a third-generation survivor of residential schools, as she, along with her parents and grandparents, experienced the hardships many Indigenous people know all too well.

The unfortunate reality is that Mary is not an outlier. Many members of the Piikani Nation are multi-generational survivors of institutions where children were stripped of their freedoms, their cultures and their identities.

Many who endured residential school life were present for the unveiling, which featured heartfelt speeches from elders Peter Strikes With A Gun and Herman Many Guns, Piikani Nation Chief Troy Knowlton and the executive director of PCFS, Kelly Provost.

 

Table setting of wedding venue — the Cowley Lions Campground Stockade near Pincher Creek in southwestern Alberta.

 

They spoke to the horrors of residential schools, of colonization, but also of the need to heal and rise above these hardships.

“This sign not only symbolizes our healing process, but it also signifies our ability to move forward with our loyalty to our way of life,” Mary says.

According to her, this initiative was first proposed to former Piikani chief Stan Grier and council, all of whom were on board with the idea.

Earlier this year, Grier was replaced by Chief Knowlton, and so the initiative was brought forth once more to the new chief and council, who were absolutely for it, as well.

“I just feel like it’s been a long time coming,” Mary says.

“Thirty years ago, you would never have heard this sort of acknowledgement for children that were in residential school, and now as time goes on, we’re starting to hear more about it and are acknowledging what happened.”

Following the event, spectators gathered at a teepee set up outside the Piikani Travel Centre, where folks received complimentary merchandise and a free lunch.

On behalf of the PCFS, Mary extends gratitude to the North Stone drum group, Wade Plain Eagle and crew for the sign structure, Little Miss Piikani Alyson Red Young Man, the PCFS staff and everyone else who made this possible.

 

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