The seven First Nations that make up the Dakota Ojibway Tribal Council have declared a state of emergency due to a drug crisis that is driving an increasing crime rate.

Chiefs from the Birdtail Sioux, Dakota Tipi, Long Plain, Roseau River Anishinabe, Sandy Bay Ojibwaym Swan Lake, and Waywayseecappo First Nations made the declaration to raise awareness about the rise in drug abuse among their communities, including the use of opioids, crack cocaine and methamphetamine.

The First Nations’ chiefs said the crisis has led to high crime rates, health issues, and an increase in suicides -- the latter also an issue on Northern Ontario’s Wapekeka First this year, prompting the community to declare its own state of emergency in June.

Though drug abuse has been an ongoing issue for years, Dakota Ojibway community leaders said it’s only getting worse. Today, it impacts children and newborns.

"In the last year in my community, 60 per cent of our children born were put on morphine after birth because of the addictions of the mothers," Ken Chalmers, chairperson of the Dakota Ojibway Tribal Council, told CTV Winnipeg.

Although the chiefs said they’ll be working to combat the crisis through a new strategy of education, prevention, and enforcement, they’re calling for government action at the provincial and federal levels to help in creating an addiction treatment facility.

"We need a treatment centre in our communities," Francine Meeches, chief at Swan Lake First Nation, told CTV Winnipeg. "[In] one of our communities, somewhere, we need healing centres. Somebody owes us that."

The chiefs have also pledged to work with police in preventing drugs from coming into communities and exile band members who are caught selling drugs.

Winnipeg police said they’ve blocked drugs from getting in and out of the city, and members of the RCMP attended the council’s meeting

For those who fear retribution, officers said there will be protection for people who come forward with information about illegal drugs in their community.

With a report from CTV Winnipeg