Lac Simon invokes curfew for young people to stem violence, crime

Leaders in Lac Simon First Nation in Quebec say a violent assault in September is forcing the community to implement a curfew for the youth in an effort to stem the violence and vandalism plaguing the territory.

This is the third curfew in three years for the youth of Lac Simon, where 70 per cent of the population is under 30, according to the Lac Simon Anishnabe Nation Council.

Chief Lucien Wabanonik said that violence and crime have intensified over the last few months and cited multiple factors including the evacuation of the community because of wildfires, a housing crisis and the pandemic.

“We want to do things right, but we’re very, very short on resources and that’s where we’re really lacking. We lack human resources and funding,” Wabanonik said in a recent interview.

Between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m., youth under 18 must remain indoors.

Additionally, since the curfew went into effect, volunteer security guards recognized by local police have been patrolling the streets, according to the chief.

“For the moment, it’s really about the safety of our people, our elders. There’s a fear of walking around even at night now. We hear that,” he explained.

Community member Micheline Anicinapeo, who works in outreach at the local schools, said that people demanded action by the band council during an emergency meeting in September.

However, she added, that despite the curfew, some youths are still out at night until they are apprehended by the volunteer security guards and brought back home.

“When I meet kids, they don’t talk about the vandalism they’re doing. They don’t know why they’re doing it. Yesterday, I witnessed that happen and he (the youth) said ‘I don’t know. I don’t know why,’” Anicinapeo said.

Moreover, she said, after the school day is over, the youth have nowhere to go, and end up roaming the streets.

“Here in the community, we don’t have a youth center. There are not enough activities for young people. We don’t have that. And we have over 800 to 900 young people in the community,” Anicinapeo noted.

Lac Simon
‘We don’t have enough police officers in the community. That’s another issue we need to resolve with the government quickly,’ says Wabanonik. Photo: APTN.

APTN News spoke with a few young people in front of the local high school who said they did not mind the curfew.

Lina Ganegunn, a mother of young children who lives in Lac Simon, said that she supported the curfew but that more solutions are needed.

“Maybe mentoring kids and taking them to sports. get them moving,” she said.

Wabanonik emphasized that parents also have to do their part – otherwise the band council may involve youth protection and even consider banishment from the community for repeat offenders.

“So, we also have a problem with the police, in terms of manpower. We don’t have enough police officers in the community. That’s another issue we need to resolve with the government quickly,” he said.

APTN contacted Indigenous Service Canada about money for policing but didn’t hear back before but didn’t hear back before the story was published.

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