Crime declined or held steady last year in three of four First Nations communities in the Flin Flon-Creighton region.
Newly released police statistics show that in 2015, the overall crime rate fell in Deschambault Lake and Pukatawagan while essentially staying level in Pelican Narrows. Crime in Sandy Bay increased.
Pukatawagan saw the biggest decline with its per-capita crime rate dropping 15.9 per cent. In Deschambault Lake, crime fell 12.9 per cent. The rate in Pelican Narrows barely changed, rising
0.73 per cent.
Sandy Bay saw crime grow 18.2 per cent, though its rate of violent crime dropped by 9.1 per cent. Break-and-enters and drug offences were also down in Sandy Bay, while property crime soared 61.5 per cent.
Violent crime declined in Deschambault Lake (22.4 per cent), Pukatawagan (17.1 per cent) and Pelican Narrows (2.7 per cent). Break-and-enters were down on the three reserves, and only Deschambault Lake experienced a rise in drug crime (41.9 per cent).
Property crime went up marginally in Pelican Narrows (6.8 per cent) and Deschambault Lake (1.8 per cent) while declining in Pukatawagan (14.2 per cent).
In terms of overall crime, Pelican Narrows (102,540) had by far the highest per-capita crime rate of the four reserves.
The community was followed by Sandy Bay (85,105), Deschambault Lake (67,757) and Pukatawagan (48,899).
All four of the First Nations communities recorded substantially higher crime rates than Flin Flon (21,929), though each reserve is also much smaller than Flin Flon and its 5,592 residents – at least according to the official population figures.
Some sources indicate Pelican Narrows – which includes a village and a reserve that makes up most of the community – now has just as many people as Flin Flon. Statistics Canada says otherwise, putting the Pelican Narrows population at 2,703 people as of 2011.
Residents estimate Pukatawagan’s population to be over 3,000, while Sandy Bay has about 1,200 people. Deschambault Lake’s population is 1,194 people, according to the census.
The size of the reserves makes statistical comparisons with Flin Flon challenging, because even a minute number of offences in a very small community can skew the overall crime rate.
That said, the crime challenges facing First Nations communities are no secret. Many chalk up the problem to a lack of employment, a sense of alienation and struggles with addiction.