It’s often a frustrating job being a police officer, especially in small Northern communities like those in the Eeyou Istchee. Friends and family feel slighted when you won’t give them or their loved ones a “break.” Victims are upset because the perpertrator is back on the streets. Add to that a cocktail of alcohol and drugs where most Cree own at least one weapon and it’s enough to stress anyone out.
It has to be even harder when you are overworked to boot. That is the message Cree police are trying to get out to community members.
Looking at police forces in Eeyou Istchee it is obvious that our police are understaffed in most communities. Chisasibi has a population of 3632 and only 10 officers. Mistissini has a population of 3186 and 9 officer. Waskaganish has 7 officers with a population of 2330. Waswanipi uses 6 officers to police 1813 people. Lastly Wemindji has 6 officers for a population of 1266.
Meanwhile Attikameks from Obedjiwan with 60 per cent of Chisasibi’s a population with 2209 people in their community has 13 police officers.
Closer to Chisasibi’s population is Uashat, a Innus community of 3328 people. They enjoy the protection of 14 officers (soon to be increased to 16).
Bill Namagoose, executive director of the Grand Council of the Crees acknowledges there are disparities but says things are changing.
“In our last negotiations we added ten more police. Negotiations are continuing with Canada and Quebec to increase budgets and services. We want to realize a Cree Nation police concept and we are working towards that,” Namagoose said.