Norway House installs checkpoint to block drugs, liquor

Norway House installs checkpoint to block drugs, liquor

Anyone driving into Norway House Cree Nation now has to go through a border patrol-like checkpoint.

The dry community is taking the extra step to prevent alcohol and drugs from entering the reserve.

All visitors and community members must pull into the 24-hour checkpoint — a building that resembles a registration gate at a national park — where trained security guards will ask for a licence and registration.

"We have a lot of issues with drugs and alcohol in our community and we have people driving in and out all hours, and this was one way for us to at least alleviate some of that," said Norway House Chief Ron Evans.

The community of about 5,000 people, located 460 kilometres north of Winnipeg, launched the new security measure on Monday. The checkpoint is located on Highway 373, the only road into Norway House.

"They [guards] may ask … if you belong to the community or, if you're visiting, they may ask you what brings you into the community," Evans said.

"From the responses, I guess they'll determine whether it warrants a search of your vehicle or not."

Evans said they have been talking about the idea for a few years and got the process rolling after a 2015 meeting with the RCMP.

More meetings followed between Norway House leaders and politicians from both the federal and provincial levels of government to develop the necessary bylaws.

Evans estimates it will cost $500,000 a year to operate the checkpoint.