Samson Cree First Nation leaders are vowing to clean up the reserve near Hobbema, Alberta, after the second shooting in as many months has left a 23-year-old woman dead.
Chelsea Yellowbird was shot just before 3 a.m. on September 5, right next door to where the five-year-old grandson of Chief Marvin Yellowbird was slain on July 11 as he slept.
Police still have not solved the child’s shooting on the gang-plagued First Nation, which has now become a national example of the lack of safety and protection on reserves, as well as a symbol of disenfranchised youth turning to violence.
“Hobbema is an appalling human tragedy, a stain that symbolizes Canada’s biggest failure as a nation – the inability to deal with violence and poverty on Canada’s First Nations,” the Calgary Herald said in an editorial after Monday’s shooting.
The Edmonton Journal reported that police received a gunshot call at 2:55 a.m. on Monday morning. Police found the wounded woman in the backyard, shot in the face and upper body, Constable Perry Cardinal told the newspaper.
The woman was identified as Chelsea Yellowbird, the boy’s aunt, though it was not clear whether the two shootings were related. The chief’s grandson Ethan Yellowbird was killed on July 11 by a bullet that ripped through the wall from outside his house and into his head. Police have not determined whether the two shootings are related.
On Wednesday September 7 Chief Yellowbird and leaders of the four tribes on the reserve—Samson Cree, Ermineskin, Montana and the Louis Bull Tribe—started organizing a literal and figurative cleanup effort, demolishing abandoned, burnt-out houses on the reserve, clearing overgrown fields and adding streetlights, Samson Cree councilor Kirk Buffalo told the Edmonton Journal. He also said that leaders are considering an eviction ordinance to oust those deemed undesirable in the community.