Ginoogaming First Nation declares state of emergency

By Austin Campbell
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
SNnewswatch.com

Crime is on the rise in Ginoogaming First Nation.

With safety concerns in mind, Chief Sheri Taylor and the Band Council declared a state of emergency on May 15 due to an overwhelming increase in violence and drug and alcohol-related crime across the community.

Chief Taylor spoke to Dougall Media on May 21 at a gathering of the Matawa Chiefs Council in Thunder Bay and explained the need for a state of emergency declaration in her community.

“When you have drugs coming into the community, you have a lot of crime that comes with that – theft and assaults . . . and it’s effecting our children,” she said.

She added that an increase in calls – not just to the police but also to her – made it clear there was a serious problem.

“We have a lot more calls. Many community members call me – they don’t necessarily call the police either and, in turn, I make those phone calls to the police.

“We’ve had more reports from homeowners and community members regarding drinking and underage partying, more people coming in to the community that are not from the community who we know are there for (criminal) activity – drug use or drug trafficking – because we’re so close to town and the highway,” she said.

Ginoogaming First Nation sits along the northern shore of Long Lake, approximately 40 kilometres east of the Geraldton Ward in Greenstone, immediately south of Long Lake #58 First Nation and the Longlac Ward.

As such, Ginoogaming is also very close to Highway 11.

Currently, the Anishinabek Police Service and the Ontario Provincial Police share policing duties for the community on a part-time basis but this recent declaration by Chief and Council highlights the need for greater police presence to deter further criminal activity.

Chief Taylor said as much herself when she identified why Ginoogaming has seen such an increase in crime.

“We have a lack of police presence in the community. When there’s a lack of police presence, they don’t see police, they think it’s okay to come and do the things that they’re doing,” she said.

A press release provided to the media by Matawa First Nations Management states that Ginoogaming First Nation is “calling on its treaty partners, the federal and provincial governments, to provide immediate support and resources.”

Taylor said she and the Band Council are ultimately looking to keep community members safe.

“I’m asking for more policing . . . more police presence deters that kind of activity from happening in the community. We also need support for our security. We have our own peacekeepers – we’re proactive in our community, we have our youth involved. They’re peacekeepers and they provide security – check-in with Elders and our most vulnerable. So we need supports for them in addition to mental health and addictions,” she said.