By Lyonel Doherty
All criminals, even young offenders, should be named in the media as part of their rehabilitation, says Osoyoos Indian Band Chief Clarence Louie.
This sentiment was met with much applause at Tuesday’s crime forum at the Oliver Community Centre.
In excess of 400 people crammed into the hall to hear more than a dozen speakers talk about the proliferation of crime in Oliver.
“Ya, we got crime on the rez. We have problems on the reserve just like you do here. It goes both ways,” Louie said.
In answer to one question, he stated the OIB doesn’t have a tribal police force like the Colville tribe because the Colville reserve has 10,000 band members and Osoyoos only has 500.
The chief said most of the crime that occurs on the reservation is drug related.
“This opioid and fentanyl stuff has come up. We never had that in the 70s, 80s and the 60s.”
Louie said the drugs people take now allow them to stay up five or six days in a row. “That’s whacko. That’s zombie territory.”
The chief agreed that Oliver needs more police resources, and commended the forum organizers for bringing people together to talk about such an important issue.
“I’ve never seen so many non-band members in one room in my whole life.”
Louie said the OIB plans to form a committee to establish “crime watchers” on the reserve, just like the Town of Oliver has.
“We’re looking at getting our own security patrol going like we used to have a couple of years ago. We hate this crime as bad as anyone in this room does.”
Louie said he has dealt with the police for many years and has seen how they bring the offenders to court only to be waylaid by the law.
“It’s the damn court system, whether it’s the federal MPs or the MLAs; they need a kick in the rear.”
He lamented the justice system is too easy on criminals. “To me, if you do the crime, you should do the time . . . it doesn’t matter how old you are.”
Louie said the young offenders system is a big part of the problem because it’s letting kids off too easy.
“We should be publishing names. Publish the damn names!” he said to applause.
The chief said shame, which used to mean something, is part of rehabilitation.
“When you’re young, I don’t care if you stole a chocolate bar – name the damn name; put it in the newspaper.”
Louie said the court system is easier on the criminals than the victims.
In addressing the drug issue, the chief said he has seen treatment centres work.
“I have seen some of my people come out of treatment centres and not use again, so we need more treatment centres (especially to deal with the new drugs).”
Louie said he is still a firm believer of bringing back the old-school ways that he was brought up with. For example, more punishment is necessary, he pointed out to more applause.
The chief said the police can only do so much in the face of judges and high-priced lawyers. “That’s a problem for the MPs and MLAs to deal with.”
Louie said all people can do with a system like this is reduce the crime rate a few percentage points a year.
“We’re not going to get rid of it. I told the people on the reserve, we’re not going to get rid of this dumb shit, we’ll always have a bunch of addicts and a few criminals around.”
But he said they want to reduce crime on the reservation and keep people in jail who belong there. And those who can be rehabilitated and are willing to attend treatment centres, send them there to get help.