I wish to address a serious and disturbing problem in the Cree Nation that is growing at an alarming rate and, quite frankly, it is simply unbelievable. Answer me this, how many times can you recall in the past year where there has been an incident of an intoxicated individual wandering around in one of our Cree communities with a firearm?

Far too many by my count, in fact, once is one time too many. You know what I’m talking about, that phone call from a relative or a friend to tell you of the recent shooting in their community. Or how about this, your neighbour calling to let you know that there’s a “drunk with a gun” in your community. And it seems to look like that this is the “in” thing to do, that it’s cool to pick up a gun and blow off some steam when you’re drunk. Personally, I think it’s pathetic. I mean, if you’re drinking and all hell breaks loose and you think of grabbing a gun. Two words – SEEK HELP.

I’m embarrassed and ashamed to say that this is beginning to be a regular occurrence almost every weekend somewhere in the Cree Nation. Since when and where should this be a “regular occurrence”? It would be more understandable for me if we lived in a warzone, but we don’t. And, more importantly, what and when are we going to do something about it?

Oh, I can tell you when… only when one of these so-called regular occurrences comes with a number attached to it, the number of dead in that occurrence. Some of you might be thinking I’m exaggerating or this will never happen in the Cree Nation. Well, I hope you remember that thought when you hear of a 5-year-old child being buried in one of our communities because of a stray or ricocheting bullet from one of these occurrences. Or even worse, when you’re burying someone you love because of “some drunk with a gun”.

Here’s a fact for you to consider, the .308, which is one of the popular rifles of our hunters, is roughly the equivalent of the 7.62x51mm NATO round, which is more powerful than what the M16 or the AK47 fires. And this is the standard sniper rifle round used by the military to take down enemies up to a kilometre away. A kilometer away!

Imagine a .308 rifle shot by a drunk at a house, I’m pretty sure it will shoot straight through the house and end up in the next house behind it. Imagine a baby in a swing, quietly sleeping, and a .308 bullet rips through walls and hits the baby, killing the infant instantly. Or granny sitting in the living room in a rocking chair just pondering on some thoughts on the day, and a bullet zings in and hits her, dead. Am I exaggerating? I think not, the possibility of that happening is very real, too real for comfort, for my comfort anyway.

I, for one, think the problem has escalated to a point where it can no longer be ignored. If these incidents happened in a city down south, the solution is usually police officers shooting the armed individual once they feel their lives are in danger. And it’s not the Hollywood movie type of shot, where the good guy shoots the gun out of the bad guy’s hand or a shot to the leg to injure the suspect. They are trained to shoot on the centre of mass, basically meaning a shot in the centre of the chest. The chance of missing is greatly reduced when a shot is placed on the centre of mass, since a moving hand or leg makes a harder target to hit.

So, is this the solution that we have to start using in our communities? I’ll leave you to your answers. But personally, if I am ever in the proximity of such an occurrence, have a firearm within reach, and if I feel that either me or a loved one is in danger… well… putting one in the centre of mass will be a thought I will seriously consider.