On Thursday, June 26, Nishnawbe Aski Nation gave its support to the Kashechewan community in its decision to withdraw from the policing agreement it had made with the Nishnawbe Aski Police Service (NAPS).

The decision was based on the ever-growing concerns for the health and safety of its community. Kashechewan, like many other communities in Ontario, felt that its needs could not be met under the federal government’s cap on police funding.

Kashechewan Chief Jonathon Solomon had given a 30-day deadline to the Ontario government and to the federal government, demanding that they recognize the issues with the police system and find solutions for the community of 1,500 residents. The deadline was later extended when the federal government promised to negotiate.

Supporting this, Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Stan Beardy stated, “We have spent 14 years negotiating with various levels of government with little progress in addressing the gap between the quality of police services in the Nishnawbe Aski Nation and the rest of the province. It’s time that governments start taking action to address the social challenges of our communities.”

Although negotiations have been going on since 1994, only one of the 39 NAPS detachments meets national building-code standards. Proper lighting, washroom facilities, monitoring capabilities and cell construction are only a few of the things needed.

Nishnawbe Aski Nation is a political territorial organization that represents 49 First Nations communities in James Bay, including Kashechewan. Together, they try to find solutions on how to make communities safer places to live in.