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Bootlegging must stop: Tuk residents

Andrew Livingstone
Northern News Services
Published Monday, March 2, 2009

TUKTOYAKTUK - Tuktoyaktuk hamlet council and community members agreed at a public meeting last Wednesday night that something needs to be done about alcohol addiction in the community.

NNSL Photo/Graphic

Tuktoyaktuk hamlet council and community members are seeking solutions to curb excessive alcohol consumption in their community. - NNSL file photo

No fewer than 74 people turned out to discuss what could be done to deal about escalating alcohol consumption.

Lena Kotokak, Tuk's deputy mayor, said those in attendance were in agreement that some sort of alcohol restriction was needed to curb the problem.

"At times it was quite emotional, people are very concerned about the situation," she said. "The overall censuses was that alcohol will always be a part of the community, but the majority felt that we should have some restriction in place."

Sister Faye Trembley said the issues facing the community are not getting better and something needs to be done.

"Alcohol is a problem in the community," she said. "There has been a lot of pain and tragedy, violence and neglected children. The neglected children can result in kids being abused or parents not waking up to send their kids to school or just not having the energy to be there for their children.

Kotokak said many issues were discussed including the problem of bootlegging, underage drinking and the lack of support systems in place to help people deal with alcohol addiction and abuse. Community members also suggested council take a lead role in conducting a survey on alcohol effects on the community, using statistics from organizations in Tuk, including the RCMP.

"We're hoping we can curb the sale of bootlegging," she said. "Limits would help stop the problem. We haven't decided on anything yet but we're addressing all the concerns and they will be discussed at our next council meeting."

Trembley said there is a large concern about the issue of bootlegging, especially to minors.

"Parents and community members are in anguish and frustration over the situation of bootlegging in the town," she said. "There needs to be bylaws in the town so that it can be enforced by the legal system.

"I see kids that are sad. It leaves them hopeless. It gives them some kind of short-term satisfaction through peer pressure. It puts younger girls in situations with older boys or men because they try to get them drunk."

School principal Fred Butler said alcohol is a contributing factor to the problems he sees in his school.

"Youth are seeing alcohol on a regular basis and they have started themselves on a very slippery slope," he said. "It's difficult trying to convince these young people that this is not the way to go. That there is a different life without a bottle and far more enjoyable.

"When it's so easy to get access to it in the community, these young people are exposed to quite a few temptations. It's damaging to their lives."

With no support systems in place, like counselling or Alcoholics Anonymous, members in the community don't have the opportunity to escape the problem they might be facing.

"We do not have a drug counsellor in the town even though there is money available for this," Trembley said, adding the academic requirements are so high and they're not the things that are required for local people.

Kotokak said they've been working toward having a community-run alcohol facility for years now.

"The community wants the centre to be community driven, employing people from the community who have the skills available to them to council," she said.

Hamlet council will discuss the public meeting on March 4 at their council meeting.