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Community ᐄᐦᑖᐧᐃᓐ

The Nation tests public opinion on Waskaganish alcohol referendum

BY Neil Diamond Jun 2, 2023

The people of Waskaganish have spoken and voted yes to allow the sale of alcohol at their restaurants, tournaments, wedding receptions and other special events in a referendum held May 23. Before the vote, I asked several men and women on the street for their opinion on this matter.

It’s time to look at alternatives because the community has been under prohibition for a long time, and it’s proven that it doesn’t work. It’s not a problem when you use alcohol responsibly, it’s when you abuse it that it creates problems for your family, for the community in general. If we can educate people to use it responsibly it would be better. I think that’s what the community wants to do with this and because our young people, wherever they go in this world, alcohol is always going to be present and if we give them the life skills on how to deal with it and how to use it responsibly, I think it’s best for them.

– Charles J. Hester

I think it’s a good idea so people will learn how to drink. I think people who cause trouble should be banned from buying it for a month like they do in Whapmagoostui. Maybe they can control alcohol instead of alcohol controlling them. We can’t stop alcohol. It’s all over the world.

– Glen Wadden

If the band wants to legalize alcohol sales, they should go by the laws that are already in place in Quebec. If we go the way we are it’s going to make the situation worse with more break-ins into people’s houses, into other establishments and cause more ruckus in our community. It would be better if we followed Quebec’s alcohol laws.

– Denny Dannrath

There’s already alcohol and alcohol abuse. It’s been going on like that for years. It’s good to try different ways to try and control it at least. There’s a lot of drinking of hard liquor so maybe they won’t drink so much of that. They’ll just get full on beer [laughs]. I heard of a community down south that put up a bar and now you don’t see people drunk on the streets. It changed the way they drink. They no longer binge drink, they just drink socially.

– Stacey Bear

I think they’re moving too fast on this. There are resolutions that were passed at previous meetings and round tables that haven’t been implemented. But it looks like they’re moving too fast on this one.

– Marjorie Blackened

People don’t know how to drink socially. And after what happened here recently [a shooting death], there’s a lot of grief in the community. It would be wise for the band to look at that issue first.

– David Erless

Alcohol made our parents and grandparents suffer. Now we see it’s getting out of hand. It’s hard on all the resources we have in our community. It’s tiring for the police, social services, and teachers. The good side of it is that there are people who drink responsibly and who can control it. But it’s the white people. I don’t know of any Crees who can do that. I haven’t seen any who drink just a bit then go to bed. It’s getting worse here and in Val-d’Or.

– Rita Macleod

I don’t have a problem with that as long as it’s for adults. It has to be in a secure and safe environment. And the people working there [serving alcohol] have to be more informed about the whole picture here. To be informed of any trauma. Now that we are more informed about trauma, we understand that alcohol abuse is a symptom.

– Charles Esau

The results for the Waskaganish Alcohol Referendum are in at print time and they voted yes.

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Neil Diamond is a filmmaker, writer, founder and owner of the Nation. He currently resides in his home community of Waskaganish.