Canadian native community bans alcohol

Fri Feb 1, 2008 3:17pm EST
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TORONTO (Reuters) - A Canadian aboriginal community has narrowly voted to ban alcohol in the village, a decision that comes just days after two toddlers on an Indian reserve froze to death in an incident in which alcohol is believed to have been a factor.

On Thursday night, the Innu First Nation in Newfoundland voted 76-74 to ban the sale, distribution or possession of alcohol in an attempt to stop the bootlegging business that has been blamed for the poverty and social problems of the small community on Canada's Atlantic coast.

While alcohol is not sold on the reserve, some members either make their own or bring it in from nearby communities and sell it for a large profit.

"We've been seeing so many bootleggers here in the community and they make thousands and thousands of dollars," said Katie Rich, assistant to the chief of the reserve's band counsel.

"And those parents that are drinking ... that money should have been going to the children to buy food for them."

Earlier this week, two toddlers were found frozen to death on the Yellow Quill First Nation Indian reserve in the Prairie province of Saskatchewan.

Their father left his home with the children, who were dressed only in diapers and light shirts, on a bitterly cold night when temperatures dropped below -35 degrees Celsius (-31 degrees Fahrenheit).

The man arrived at a neighbor's home about four hours later with severe frostbite and hypothermia, and was taken to hospital. The children were later found dead in the snow.

Media reports have said the father, who is now under investigation by police, was intoxicated at the time.   Continued...