Wednesday, March 24, 2010

To Booze or not to Booze, To Drink or not to Drink?

Those are the questions but what is the answer? The headline in Wednesday’s, March 24, 2010 edition of the GLOBE AND MAIL did read, “ Meeting on booze ban marked by arrests as hundreds turn out. Residents of Natuashish to vote Friday on whether to overturn alcohol restriction in divided Innu community” written by Oliver Moore.

As noted in the article, the members of the community are to vote on the current resolution to ban alcohol from the community that was voted on and imposed on in 2002 subsequent to a number of social problems. Now, the current Chief, Simeon Tshakapesh, wants to revise the ban.

Perhaps a more appropriate question could read, “To be or not to be?” Like the questions above, these phrases imply an element of choice; after all, humans have a volitional mind. The social problems of the Natuashish are not atypical of Aboriginal communities across Canada where, I believe, the abuse of alcohol does and always will play a part in social problems: ban or no ban. In my experience living in a number of Aboriginal communities, the challenge with alcohol consumption always comes down to a choice of just one or two drinks only or getting drunk. Unfortunately, the latter is usually practiced and leads to “social problems” as alluded to in the article. Again, not atypical. According to community members, the ban has had measured success in less crime and increased attendance at school. Still, bootlegging exists. Again, not atypical. As much as Aboriginal communities are considered remote such as Natuashish, people will find a way to indulge in alcohol.

Revising the ban as proposed by the new Chief has divided the community as witnessed in their public meeting. The community members will always have a choice “to be or not to be” including Agathe Rich who tragically lost her children in a fire after drinking with her husband. Unfortunately then, she had chosen to be drunk and suffered the consequences. She has sinced become sober and has chosen not to be.

Let’s see how the community votes on Friday, March 26th.  You can bet that some members will attend the meeting after consuming a few drinks.