NAN pleased with jury recommendations in Wesley/Goodwin inquest

    THUNDER BAY, ON, May 21 /CNW/ - Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Deputy Grand
Chief Alvin Fiddler is pleased with jury recommendations that call for police
services in First Nation communities to be equivalent to those in non-First
Nation communities delivered at the inquest into a fatal fire that claimed the
lives of Jamie Goodwin and Ricardo Wesley at a police detachment in
Kashechewan First Nation on January 8, 2006.
    "We thank the jury for these recommendations - they are everything we had
hoped for," said Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Deputy Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler,
who attended the conclusion of the coroner's inquest in Toronto today. "We
call on the Government of Ontario and the Government of Canada to work with us
to implement these recommendations."
    The five-member jury made 86 recommendations relevant to the
Nishnawbe-Aski Nation Police Service (NAPS) and its policing delivery area,

    -   First Nations, Canada and Ontario should work together to ensure that
        policing standards and service levels in First Nation communities are
        equivalent to those in non-First Nation communities.
    -   Canada and Ontario should provide NAPS with the funding required to
        ensure that the communities it serves receive the same level and
        quality of policing services and infrastructure that non-First
        Nations communities receive.
    -   A public inquiry or Royal Commission should be conducted for the NAN
        communities which addresses parity of services, health and safety,
        and the quality of life.

    "These jury members were able to see what federal and provincial
governments have failed to recognize - that NAN First Nations deserve the same
level of police services as those enjoyed by the rest of the province," said
Fiddler, noting the jury's recognition that 19 NAPS detachments do not meet
National Building Code standards. "The inquest is done but the work is just
staring, and we hope that something positive can come from this."
    James Goodwin and Ricardo Wesley died in a tragic jail fire at a NAPS
detachment in Kashechewan on January 8, 2006 while the community was powerless
to help them. The tragedy garnered national attention on the inadequacies of
firefighting resources in First Nation communities.
    Kashechewan First Nation, a remote fly-in community along the west coast
of James Bay with a population of 1,600 people, has trained a volunteer fire
department and has acquired fire trucks which will not be delivered to the
community until a fire hall, which is currently under construction, is
completed. Until all the equipment is in place, the community will continue to
be unable to respond to fires.

    Nishnawbe Aski Nation is a political territorial organization
representing 49 First Nation communities within James Bay Treaty 9 and Treaty
5 territory - an area covering two-thirds of the province of Ontario.

For further information:

For further information: Michael Heintzman, Media Relations Officer -
Nishnawbe Aski Nation, (807) 625-4906 or (807) 621-2790 mobile; or Kashechewan
First Nation Chief, Jonathon Solomon, (705) 275-4062 or (613) 294-0021

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