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Fight against bullying needs to go beyond a single day.

BLOOD FIRST NATION

In March, members of the Blood Tribe Police Service wore pink in acknowledgement of National Anti-Bullying Day. But for the southern Alberta First Nation, anti-bullying has become more than a single day of action.

Organized crime, drugs and gangs have been bullying their way into the lives of the Blood community. Increased fentanyl use and deaths resulted in Chief and council declaring a state of emergency on the First Nation in March 2015.

"Dealers are definitely bullying the community. With the users and what not, it's a violent business. In order for (the dealers) to be successful, they've got to bully people around," said Blood Tribe Police Service Insp. Joseph Manyfingers.

"People are fighting to take back their community and we re happy to see that," he said. "We're getting a lot more cooperation from the community"

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The school's resource officer, Const. Brice Iron Shirt, and previous school resource officer, Const. Caitlin Chiasson, planned the event on Feb. 24, which saw BTPS members wearing pink patrol shirts and support staff dressed in pink t-shirts.

Manyfingers says BTPS's participation in National Anti-Bullying Day was in the works well before the shooting in the Dene Building at the La Loche Community School in Saskatchewan. On Jan. 22, a 17-year-old boy, an alleged victim of bullying, shot up the school after killing two boys in a residence. The boy was charged with

four counts of first-degree murder and seven counts of attempted murder.

"Definitely with what happened there it proves that (fighting bullying) is even more important," said Manyfingers.

Getting that point across was what check stops were about on Feb. 24. Along with conducting inspections to make sure vehicles were road-safe, officers had the opportunity to talk about bullying and the impacts it can have.

"Bullying happens everywhere and in every work place there's some degree of bullying going on," said Manyfingers.

Manyfingers says that BTPS has recognized that bullying can happen in its own work place and has established some "pretty concrete" policies against both anti-bullying and sexual harassment.

"It's about creating a safe work place. A place where people can come and just work. We've dealt with gossiping, we've dealt with right-out bullying and those kinds of measures. It's something as managers we have to take into consideration and we have to be mindful that in order for employees to do good, they have to be happy," he said.

By Shari Narine

Windspeaker Contributor

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Title Annotation:education
Author:Narine, Shari
Publication:Windspeaker
Date:Apr 1, 2016
Words:409
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