Colville Lake shooting
Small community has problems

by Jennifer Pritchett
Northern News Services

NNSL (Feb 24/97) - A recent shooting in Colville Lake has sparked concern about crime in the tiny community.

The latest of three shootings over the last six months, January's incident, resulted in charges against one man for the possession of a dangerous weapon.

Fort Good Hope RCMP officers investigating the case say that a 26-year-old man was arrested after someone matching his description was seen repeatedly firing a gun in the community.

Police say a man fired a gun while he walked through the community, apparently after a beating at the hands of several members of the community.

While it wasn't as serious as other recent shootings in Colville Lake, the incident has forced at least one RCMP officer to ask some questions about crime in Colville Lake.

"For the size of the community, it's a busy place (for crime)," said Const. Patrick Olson of the Fort Good Hope detachment, which is about 150 kilometres southwest of Colville Lake.

A shooting in September involved another Colville Lake man who was charged with shooting his two brothers.

Olson said RCMP from his community make only monthly overnight visits. "I can't say it's hard for police, but we just don't have the rapport with the people because of the little time we spend over there," he said.

Joseph Kochon, First Nations band manager in Colville Lake, said the community is headed for serious problems if it doesn't get some kind of permanent police presence soon.

"If the justice department isn't going to listen to us, there's going to be some more serious accidents," he said.

Kochon maintained the community leaders have gone to the department about the lack of policing, but haven't had any luck.

"We've just been pushed aside to take care of ourselves," he said. "We've been denied our protection, and people are saying they are scared all the time."

Community leaders are getting together next week to figure out ways to improve the situation for the residents of the community.

"We need something like a special constable in here to be on their side," he said. "The community leaders are trying to do something about this, but it takes time."

Alcohol has been linked to many of the community's problems and leaders have discussed the idea of restricting its use.

"But what's the use of putting restrictions into place when there's no law enforcement?" said Kochon.

Fort Good Hope is six hours away by snowmachine and one hour by air. There aren't adequate facilities in the community of about 70 to support an RCMP member and his family, Olson said.