October 19, 2020

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Homemade booze becomes No. 1 problem

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 2/1/2009 (4307 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

SUPER juice is a potent alcoholic drink that can be brewed quickly from simple ingredients, but it sells in northern communities for as much as $40 a litre.

It's no surprise then that officials say it's quickly becoming the No. 1 problem in the North.

Super juice is made by combining brewer's yeast, sugar and water and leaving the mixture to ferment for 48 hours.

Without the yeast, typically used for making beer and wine and readily available without sales restrictions, would-be brewers are out of business.

Controlling who has access to the yeast is the issue behind a contentious proposal to make it illegal for First Nations people to buy brewer's yeast.

Garden Hill First Nation Chief David Harper said alcohol has been banned from Island Lake First Nations "as far back as you can remember. It's always been a dry reserve."

He said yeast has been banned from Island Lake First Nations for about three years. If people want to bring in yeast for bread-making, they must make special arrangements.

Island Lake RCMP Sgt. Dany Beland said police used to confiscate hundreds of bottles of liquor at Island Lake entry points in the early 1990s. This year, they've seen none. But they have seized a lot of yeast.

A bag of yeast "is much easier to bring in a region like here than it is to bring a bottle of whisky," said Beland. "The local band constables here do a wonderful job doing some airport searches. They do search baggage and search people."

Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Minister Eric Robinson said super juice is so potent it quickly turns addicts away from beer.

"Super juice is becoming the No. 1 problem very quickly."

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