Banishing gang members from the Samson Cree First Nation is the last resort for the troubled community at Hobbema, Alta., a band councillor says.
The largest of four reserves located 90 kilometres south of Edmonton is voting Wednesday on a residency bylaw that would allow reserve members to evict troublemakers.
"It boils down to … the murders, the drive-bys, the violence that has plagued our community," Kirk Buffalo said Wednesday.
Polls are open at the Samson Bingo Hall in Hobbema and the nearby Pigeon Lake Community Centre until 8 p.m. Wednesday. The proposed bylaw would allow the band to evict anyone who "would present a danger to the health or safety of the community."
"There's only a small percentage of the community in Hobbema that fall into this category," Buffalo said. "You come to our community and you're selling drugs or you're causing violence — we don't want you. I don't think any community wants you."
Under the residency bylaw, any 25 residents could apply to have another resident evicted. If the person is not a band member, a residency tribunal would make the decision whether to evict.
However, if the person is a band member, eviction can only occur with a two-thirds vote by the chief and council.
Three other reserves adjoining the Samson Cree Reserve are not part of the referendum.
Should the bylaw pass, it will need approval from Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada.