As most of us know, the Bloods/Kainai live on Canada’s largest reserve, which has a population of over 12,000 people. Currently, there are 8,000 members living on the reserve, a land mass the size of 1,300 square kilometres. As with a growing population, there is bound to be issues and two at the top of this list are the Tribe’s waste collection and illegal dumping.
“One of the biggest problems we have is only having two trucks for the entire Reserve. When everything is in full swing there are over 1,000 places to pick-up, including homes and businesses that need garbage collection and disposal,” says Joe Healy, Director of Blood Tribe Public Works (BTPW).
Recently, one truck was sent in for repairs and inspection, which left only one truck to collect the scheduled garbage pick-ups.
“We have an old garbage truck,” says Healy.
“We are in the process of getting it functional, so hopefully within the coming weeks we’ll have three garbage trucks.”
The Blood Tribe pays $250,000 a year to Chief Mountain Regional Solid Waste Authority, in order to provide members access to all waste transfer sites surrounding the Reserve. This way, members have additional places to dispose their garbage. The waste transfer sites associated with Cardston County that Tribal members have access to, since it’s paid for by the Tribe are: Glenwood/Hill Spring, Mountain View, Spring Coulee, Magrath and Cardston as well as the town’s waste bins. Each site listed has different operation times and no identification is required to use them. The Waste Authority just asks that garbage be bagged and materials are sorted when they’re being dropped off. In an effort to address the issue of illegal dump sites, Healy encourages Blood Tribe members to use these waste transfer sites to dispose their garbage.
“There are over 41 major illegal dump sites and over 100 smaller illegal dump sites on the reserve. We need to get away from people dumping just anywhere,” says Healy.
The dump site east of Standoff is now a waste transfer site, but during its last stage of acquiring operators, equipment and trucks, COVID-19 hit and halted all progress. However, the Blood Tribe’s new waste transfer site should be in operation by September 2020. As for Tribal members using the Standoff waste transfer site, Healy has this reminder.
“When people bring their garbage to the waste transfer site, please put your garbage in the building. It prevents it from blowing away.”
Healy wants to encourage the members of Kainai to be patient with the garbage collectors and also to help one another. For insurance and COVID-19 reasons, operators are not allowed into any homes or to be handling anyone’s garbage. If community members know of an elder, relative or fellow Tribal member who needs help in disposing of their garbage, Healy asks if you could please help them out.
“If people need garbage pick-up please call the office at 403-737-2540. Our receptionist will help address your issues and will add you to the schedule,“ says Healy.
As for the Blood Tribes garbage collection, only elders and persons with disabilities are not suppose to be charged a fee. The fees for garbage collection is $5.00 per pick-up or $20.00 for a month. Garbage fees, are usually overlooked by Tribe members states Healy, but regardless of the situation, everyone’s garbage is still collected.
To help ease the load on current employees, BTPW will soon have summer students joining in to help out.
“We also are in the process of constructing a new landfill on the north end of the reserve. We are just waiting for directions from Chief and Council,” says Healy.
“Indian Affairs (ISC) is willing to fund the whole project and the majority of people we have met with on the reserve think that a landfill is a good idea.”
Over this past year, public consultation meetings were held for Blood Tribe members regarding the proposed landfill site. The purpose of these meetings was to provide Blood Tribe members the opportunity to get information about the project and have questions answered, while providing them a chance to give input.
“We’re asking people to be patient,” says Healy.
“We’re trying to get to everybody. The biggest issue is not having the manpower.”
By: Todd Eagle Child