STONEY NAKODA – A community watch Facebook group was born out of the concerns of Stoney Nakoda Nation residents after three separate “suspicious” incidents raised alarm in the community last week.
“We need to keep our community safe by working together. Whatever grudges that you may hold with Nation members, please for the sake of our children and elders, put it all aside to help make our home a better place to live and feel safe,” the first Minithni Protectors Facebook post reads.
Created on June 16 with 369 followers, the group was inspired after motorists allegedly approached young people walking near the Ozada Flats and Chiniki Lake Road. In a Cochrane RCMP press release, officials noted officers are working with support units including a K Division sketch artist to “aggressively investigate the incidents.”
“This is still an open investigation where we are trying to get descriptions of the vehicles and better descriptions of the people,” said Jennifer Brewer with the Cochrane RCMP, noting the RCMP is trying to determine if the incidents are related.
The Minithni Protectors Facebook page notes that trespassing has been an issue in the community for a number of years but has been more of a concern lately.
“We read and watch reports on the media of children, women and men going missing. The majority of the missing are First Nations again raising more concern for our people,” Nation
Earlier this year, a final report for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls called for a transformative change to eradicate violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA after looking into “Canada’s staggering rates of violence against Indigenous women.”
“The hard truth is that we live in a country whose laws and institutions perpetuate violations of fundamental rights, amounting to a genocide against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people,” Chief Commissioner Marion Buller said in the press release.
Brewer confirmed two of the three that were approached were youth while RCMP is still working to determine what occurred in the third incident.
“We just want to encourage people to report it to us as soon as possible,” Brewer said. “Don’t look for these people on your own, let us know what happened and be very detailed – why do you find this alarming? What are their facial features? What were they wearing? If they are driving, try to remember the licence plate number.”
The Minithni Protectors Facebook page also lists a number of tips for people who notice suspicious vehicles on the reservation, such as do not approach the vehicle; keep your children and women close; do not drive alone even if it’s just a few minutes; and if you are approached by anyone trespassing do not engage in any kind of conversation, dial a family member and let them know. And if the situation does escalate, call the RCMP and run to the nearest house.
Brewer also said that sometimes people do get lost on Nation roads.
“Keep in mind, sometimes people do get lost – not everyone has a negative agenda. Be aware of your surroundings, know what is happening and what they are saying, do not approach the vehicle,” Brewer said.
“And if people do get lost, just say ‘I can’t help’ and walk away.”
Anyone with information related to these incidents are asked to contact Cochrane RCMP at 403-932-2211. Alternatively, you can contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS), or online at www.P3Tips.com.