Pikangikum First Nation ‘looking for its own solutions’ to address policing, health care in the community
Tim Brody - Editor
Pikangikum First Nation shared last week that it had no resolution from government and authorities on next steps almost two weeks after expelling Ontario Provincial Police from the community.
The community shared in a March 21 media release that Chief Dean Owen and Pikangikum Band Council, “acted quickly and decisively” to expel the Ontario Provincial Police “amid allegations for incidents involving constables that occurred in the Community over many years.”
Pikangium First Nation shared that the situation led to a disruption of nursing and health care support in the community.
“The community is looking for its own solutions as discussions continue” stated Chief Owen. “The more we talk the more we are resolved to move as quickly as possible towards running our own standalone Police services, and due to the negative impacts to the Nursing Station operations, looking at operating our own Community Health Care operations. It is evident that these systems are tied to each other at the government level, leaving our Community helpless and the solution out of our control. In a remote community setting, we find this unacceptable.”
The community’s Tribal Council, Independent First Nations Alliance (IFNA), has sent in nurses and health professionals to assist in supporting the community.
IFNA CEO Mathew Hoppe stated in a March 29 news release issued by the community, that “with no resolution in sight, the Community is looking at any and all options. Can you imagine the government shutting down your hospital services in the evenings and overnight because your Police Force wasn’t available? This is the situation in Pikangikum right now.”
Owen had previously shared that with the removal of the OPP, “The health facility has altered their operations and staff scheduling based on the current situation. The result of these changes means that the Community is left without access to 24/7 health services as the nursing staff is being flown out each night by Indigenous Services Canada in response to the developing situation.”
Hoppe explained, “Our job as a Tribal Council is to support and fill gaps. The loss of these essential services certainly qualifies as a huge health and safety gap and the community is looking to us for assistance. We encourage any available nurses to visit ifna.ca and express their interest in assisting as temporary nurses in Pikangikum while a more permanent solution is found.”
“We are having trouble understanding how the loss of these essential services is acceptable to government. It just makes us realize further that we are on our own; maybe it took this event to make it clear that we can only depend on ourselves,” Chief Owen concluded.