Bridge River Indian Band Tragedy

(Xwisten/Bridge River, B.C. – October 16, 2015) On Wednesday October 14, the Bridge River Indian band (Xwisten) experienced a tragic event, in which a young man from our community attacked a number of our office staff, leaving two persons in serious condition; two persons in critical condition, the assailant dead, and the community traumatized and searching for answers.

Chief Susan James states, “Our band office staff had been working with this young man to develop a realistic plan for stable housing, and a way for him to pay his rent. He had complex social and health needs that our staff did not have the resources or training to adequately respond to. And when the situation became overwhelming for him, he lashed out.”

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs stated, “Our deepest heartfelt sympathies to Chief James, the families and all with deep ties to Xwisten affected by this horrifically brutal assault. It should not have happened but truthfully it is not surprising that it did. Under the guise of transparency and belief of rampant misuse of federal funding, band offices across this country have been compelled to administer the Harper Government’s increasingly strict controls on social assistance and employment programmes on-reserve while funding for band operations and programme resources were being severely cut. Without question, racist government policies contribute to the deliberate economic marginalization and poverty of First Nations and are directly responsible for the alarming rates in youth suicides, missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, homelessness and such brutal acts of internalized violence that took place in Xwisten.”