The Great Buffalo Nation Dakota, an alliance of 10 Dakota Nations in the Prairie Provinces has decided to flout Canadian tobacco control regulations by opening up a smoke shop and VLT gaming centre that defies Manitoba laws regarding tobacco sales. The Dakota say they just want to exercise their “sovereignty rights” but the real plan is to make easy money by selling cheap smokes and ripping off the rest of their customers’ money with the gambling.

Although the combined voices of the tobacco industry and Canadian law authorities have urged the Manitoba government to crack down on this operation, we haven’t heard a word from the Assembly of First Nations on this issue.

If Chief Shawn Atleo and the Assembly’s leaders are serious about taking full responsiblity for aboriginal health care through organizations like the newly established BC Aboriginal Health Authority (See blog October 14,2011, Aboriginal Education and BC Health Authority), they must immediately take the lead in standing against this initiative which will promote smoking and subsequent health problems especially among aboriginal youth in the area. If this challenge isn’t met head on by Chief Atleo and his executive team, how confident can Canadian taxpayers be that their hard earned dollars will be able to effectively administered to promote positive aboriginal health outcomes in the future.