NAN community gives Ontario deadline to address policing crisis



    TORONTO, Feb. 25 /CNW/ - Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Stan
Beardy together with Mushkegowuk Tribal Council Grand Chief Stan Louttit,
supports the message of Kashechewan First Nation Chief Jonathan Solomon as he
presented the Government of Ontario with a 30 day deadline to commit to
addressing the growing policing crisis in his remote First Nation community in
a meeting with Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services Rick
Bartolucci and via news conference at Queen's Park this morning.
    "Kashechewan is in a unique situation because we're viewed as one of the
best case scenarios in terms of meeting basic infrastructure needs in terms of
policing, but it's actually a situation of best of the worst," said
Kashechewan First Nation Chief Jonathan Solomon whose James Bay community of
approximately 1500 people is currently policed by Nishnawbe Aski Police
Service (NAPS) which experiences ongoing and cumulative infrastructure
challenges as displayed in the short documentary film Nishnawbe Aski Police
Service: A Sacred Calling (2008).
    "It's an issue of an accumulation of challenges," said Solomon whose
community experienced a detachment fire January 2006 where two prisoners died
and an officer was badly burned. "The community would ideally rather keep our
First Nation police service, but to ensure the unique needs of our community
are met on the long-term, we will explore other policing options over the next
30 days with the expectation the Government of Ontario will display a
commitment to work with our community and NAPS to address the severe funding
shortages within the police service comparable to provincial standards."
    Solomon's message comes after this month's closure of two NAPS
detachments (Kasabonika Lake and Marten Falls First Nations) and NAN Grand
Chief Stan Beardy's February 1st call on the governments of Ontario and Canada
to address the inadequate funding of NAPS across NAN territory.
    "It's time both levels of government (Ontario and Canada) commit to
discussing long-term solutions to meet basic health and safety standards for
NAPS detachments," said NAN Grand Chief Stan Beardy who represents 49 First
Nation communities across two-thirds of the province, including Kashechewan.
"Our communities should not be forced to consider looking at other policing
options simply because our treaty partners cannot properly address this
ongoing issue."
    NAPS serves 37 of NAN's 49 communities. Despite negotiations to address
infrastructure needs with provincial and federal representatives since 1994,
only one NAPS detachment meets national building code standards. 13 modular
detachments (trailers) have been installed as a temporary solution -
Kashechewan's detachment operates out of one of these trailers.
    Kashechewan First Nation is not the only NAN community exploring other
policing options to ensure community safety.
    Mushkegowuk Tribal Council Grand Chief Stan Louttit supports Chief
Solomon's message and attended the meeting with Minister Bartolucci along with
Beardy and Solomon this morning. Mushkegowuk Tribal Council, which represents
Kashechewan and six other NAN communities at the Tribal Council level,
submitted a complaint to provincial and federal Human Rights Commission July
2007 based on continual underfunding for policing operations.
    NAN leadership will bring the same message to the Government of Canada
during a meeting with Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day Tuesday and via
news conference on Parliament Hill Thursday.

    Nishnawbe Aski Nation is a political territorial organization
representing 49 First Nation communities in James Bay Treaty 9 and Ontario
portions of Treaty 5 - an area covering two-thirds of the province of Ontario.
Kashechewan is one of NAN's communities and is part of Mushkegowuk Tribal
Council.

    Visit www.nan.on.ca to view short film documentary NAPS: A Sacred
Calling.





For further information:

For further information: Jenna Young, Director of Communications,
Nishnawbe Aski Nation, (807) 625-4952 or (807) 628-3953 mobile

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