Pikangikum, Ontario – A Band Council Resolution (BCR) issued by Pikangikum First Nation Chief and Council has restored Police and nursing services for the remote community following an almost six-week impasse. After serious misconduct allegations, leadership expelled the OPP resulting in the government Nurses being evacuated nightly from the community citing “safety concerns”.
Chief Owen stated that “after learning about the allegations, our leadership acted decisively on behalf of our Community members. While we understand the government’s concern for the safety of their nurses, we have trouble understanding their safety versus the safety of 3,800 in-community members. This experience has opened our eyes to several gaps in terms of policing, health care and first response services that unfortunately exist in Pikangikum, but not in municipalities of smaller populations.”
On the morning of Tuesday April 27, discussions between the OPP and Pikangikum commenced, and an agreement was reached. OPP officers were vetted by Chief and Council and returned Wednesday evening to the Community, with certain conditions.
Of paramount importance was that they work alongside the Pikangikum Peacekeepers, a newly trained and deployed peacekeeping and security force created by the community in response to the policing and nursing crisis. Another condition is to provide the supplemental training necessary to achieve the short term goal of developing auxiliary constables and establishing a stand-alone Pikangikum Police Service.
Chief Owen added that “having our own police force has been Pikangikum’s objective from day one. This incident has reaffirmed our resolve to build off the hard work and perseverance of the Pikangikum Peacekeepers and Security Force that had to fill in during the crisis. It is clear to us that the well-being and safety of our 3,800 community members must be community driven.”
Mathew Hoppe, CEO of IFNA says that “Pikangikum has requested that we work with community leadership to engage with their health providers and emergency response partners to ensure that the people of Pikangikum are protected, healthy and safe. The expectation is that Ontario and Canada will continue to support them to make these vital First Nations-led programs fully resourced and supported.”