‘It’s right outside my door’: Members of Samson Cree Nation say leadership needs to address violence in community

Trena Soosay-Nanemahoo’s son Jeremy was walking to the convenience store in Samson Cree Nation for some snacks on Sept. 2 when he was killed by a gunman.

She says she’s done with the senseless violence and is now physically stepping into harm’s way to stop it.

“After I buried my son on Friday, the next day Saturday, I was stopping a gang fight,” she told APTN News. “And I was stopping another fight because I don’t want to see it anymore. It’s right outside my door.

“I knew that even if I phoned the cops or security, they are not going to be in time. I had to stop it because somebody else was going to die.”

Samson Cree Nation
Samson Cree Nation is south of Edmonton. Photo: Chris Stewart/APTN.

Samson Cree Nation, located about an hour south of Edmonton, is having problems with gangs, drugs and violence.

The world was introduced to the community when Pope Francis held a mass here.

But the community of more than 6,000 band members on reserve is having an issue with crime.

According to the RCMP, there have been four homicides this year in Maskwacis, which consists of four communities with Samson being the largest, with 116 crimes involving firearms, 93 other firearm offences and 760 assaults.

Police said many of the suspects are still at large.

Soosay-Nanemahoo said she’s talking about the violence now because of a promise.

“I do this because I told my son that ‘I am going to speak up son,’” she said. “I’m going to do it not only for you and my kids but for every other child in the nation. Because we are human, we’re humans, we are just a different colour.

“We shouldn’t be forgotten. We shouldn’t be pushed aside.”

Soosay-Nanemahoo isn’t the only one who is fed up with the crime.

Luci Johnson is a front-line court worker. APTN News showed her the statistics.

“This is eye glaring on what we are dealing with and we’re not talking about aggravated assault or common assault, we’re taking murder,” she said. “We’re talking murder in some of these things we are dealing with.

How do we start the conversations to get our community healthy? Is this what we are leaving to our future generations?”

Johnson said that it’s hard seeing families being destroyed by gangs and she wants action from chief and council.

“It’s so disheartening to see the violent acts towards our members on Samson Cree Nation,” she said. “It hurts because we know the people. We know the ones who lost their lives. We know the ones who are the perpetrators and it hurts because at the end of the day, we have to still live here together.”

Samson Cree Nation
Luci Johnson is a front line court worker in Samson Cree Nation. Photo: Chris Stewart/APTN.

Soosay-Nanemahoo is also asking for help from leadership.

“There’s no time to waste, there’s no time to be quiet anymore,” she said. “We are losing our children and we love them, they deserve to grow up with us, to grow old with us.

“This should not be a normal thing.”

In part two of APTN’s series, Chris speaks to a grieving father who just lost his son.

“Where’s our support from the chief and council to do something about all the gang violence, all the deaths, all the shootings, all the overdoses that are happening,” said Chey Lorin Buffalo who lost his son in a shooting.

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