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Community in conflict

Families sent to bush camps to defuse situation

Jorge Barrera
Northern News Services

Fort Good Hope (Aug 05/02) - A Sahtu community besieged by a spate of violence among three families has turned to the land for answers and healing.

The community of Fort Good Hope saw their summer turn dangerously violent after youths involved in a three-way family dispute used knives at a confrontation on the weekend of July 27.

No charges were laid in connection with the incident and no one sustained serious injuries, said the RCMP.

Last week, the families went out to three different bush camps as part of a plan developed by community agencies to deal with the conflict.

"We needed to come up with something to defuse the situation," said Derek Robert, community social worker.

Once the families came together they realized the problem originally involved only three people, said Robert.

He said the plan was funded by the band and cost $6,000 not including outside councillors brought in.

Some community members hope things will settle down now.

"I think it will help things," said Juliet Kelly a Fort Good Hope resident.

In June, Rose McNeely, whose husband was badly beaten in Fort Good Hope, called on her community to band together to stop the violence.

RCMP Cpl. Jim Forsey, said the youths involved called themselves a gang. They were part of a small dispute that escalated and went to the extreme.

No one was charged because no one complained to the police, said Forsey.

The youth used the monikers "East-side" and "West-side" to identify themselves, said Forsey. The monikers come from Hip Hop gangster rap music which identifies with gang life.

Forsey said he wants his officers to get into the schools and get involved in sporting events to curb any future violent outbreaks.

One of Forsey's goals is to get three youths in the community to apply to the force.

"If that is what they see that is what they believe they can be," said Forsey.

Other communities in the territory have dealt with similar situations but at a much more tragic level.

In June, Rocky Zoe, 16, was stabbed to death during a party in Rae and police believe alcohol was involved.

A 17-year-old was charged with second-degree murder in connection with the incident.

Last month, Eddie Paul Beyonnie, 22, was killed under what seems to be similar circumstances in Ndilo.

Derek Jason Sangris, 23, was charged with second- degree murder in connection with the incident.

Late last month, Lutsel K'e Chief Archie Catholique, publicly derided bootleggers and drug dealers that are flooding his dry community with contraband.

Catholique threatened to expel bootleggers and drug-dealers from the community until they cleaned up their act.

But some in healing circles believe that force is not the answer.

"The problem won't go way until people come out of denial," said Kathy Paul-Drover, executive director of Tree of Peace, a counselling centre in Yellowknife.

"It goes back to family and how the child was raised and nurtured," she said.

Pent up anger and resentment from parental neglect explodes when mixed with alcohol, said Paul-Drover.

"Dsyfunction is intergenerational," said Paul-Drover. "But not until (people take charge), can they be survivors."