As Esgenoôpetitj First Nation mourns and prepares for the funeral service of a suspected overdose victim, an addictions counsellor says they’re remaining vigilant and hopeful there will be no more overdoses.
Leo Bartibogue said there should be help available for people with addicitions, but he would also like to see something done to keep drugs like the pills suspected to have caused 35-year-old Ann Marie Lambert’s death — and four other overdoses — off the reserve.
The drug involved isn’t known yet, though people are concerned it’s fentanyl, a powerful drug that has been linked to an increasing number of overdose deaths across Canada. Neguac RCMP have asked Health Canada’s toxicology lab for an “urgent” analysis of the drug taken by Lambert.
Bartibogue is hoping to see the band council pass a drug-trafficking banishment resolution like councils in Elsipogtog First Nation and Tobique First Nation have.
“I did talk to the chief about it and asked that he make a recommendation. He’s going to address it with the council.”
The band councils’ resolutions were passed two days after the first four overdoses occurred in Esgenoôpetitj. Both communities’ resolutions warn that people trafficking fentanyl and other drugs will be banned.
Tobique’s resolution includes not only banishment from the reserve, but also from community services and benefits.
The band councils say they are taking these steps to protect the health and safety of those living in the community.
Bartibogue said in Esgenoôpetitj so many people are related it may be difficult for some to agree to a similar measure, knowing some people may be expelled.
“Hopefully something can be done to help this situation.” said Bartibogue.
For John Levi…