NAN Announces Critical Housing Shortage for NAPS Officers after Fire Destroys Home
Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Stan Beardy is appalled by the ongoing housing shortage for NAPS officers, following a fire in Marten Falls First Nation that destroyed the old age home in which a Nishnawbe-Aski Police Services (NAPS) officer was staying, resulting in the officer being removed from the community and temporarily re-assigned.“This officer was living in a home for senior citizens because there was no where else for him to stay. Now this community is without policing services because they have no housing for police officers. In the NAN territory we have a housing shortage of 8500 houses. We have families of up to 16 people living in a two-bedroom house. First Nations have no place to put officers so they are put in motels and other unsuitable arrangements. In one community we have two officers sharing a room so small, there is only one bed and they have to take turns sleeping in it,” said NAN Grand Chief Stan Beardy.
Marten Falls is a small remote community accessible only by air and winter road. It is one of 49 First Nation communities represented by Nishnawbe Aski Nation – a political territorial organization for James Bay Treaty 9 and Ontario portions of Treaty 5 (an area covering two thirds of the province). Marten Falls is currently policed by Nishnawbe Aski Police Service which serves 37 NAN communities. NAPS currently has only 1 out of 35 detachments that meets national building code standards and has been in negotiations with the provincial and federal governments to ensure adequate funding.
“The loss of housing results in a lack of service to the community and leads to a feeling of insecurity to our officers because they don’t have a place in which to live. The bottom line is there is no where for this officer to go, no place for him to live. He had to be pulled out of the community,” said acting NAPS Police Chief John Domm. “Now we are being forced to fly officers into Marten Falls to respond to any emergent situations.” said Domm adding that response time can be anywhere from 2 to 6 hours which creates additional logistical challenges such as the ongoing officer shortage.
Marten Falls is the second NAN community in the past week to be left without adequate policing after NAPS was forced to partially close a detachment in Kasabonika Lake First Nation due to deteriorating conditions.
NAPS has been in negotiations to address infrastructure challenges with provincial and federal representatives since its 1994 inception and has proposed a five year budgetary plan to negotiators for the governments of Canada and Ontario that will satisfy detachment needs on a priority basis.
“Events are unfolding in a way that is creating a great deal of instability. The community is in jeopardy without a police officer if something happens. The service, in some communities is hanging by a thread,” said NAN Grand Chief Stan Beardy.
Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service: A Sacred Calling is an 18 minute documentary short film portraying the deplorable working and living conditions of NAPS officers and detachments, resulting from an accumulation of severe provincial and federal funding shortages. The documentary was written and directed by filmmaker and NAN Deputy Grand Chief RoseAnne Archibald. It can be screened at www.nan.on.ca.
FACT SHEET – NISHNAWBE ASKI POLICE SERVICE
Nishnawbe Aski Police Service (NAPS) is the largest First Nation’s Police force in Canada and the second largest in North America. NAPS employs 135 uniformed police officers and 30 civilians. NAPS provides service to 35,000 people in 37 First Nation communities located across the remote north of Ontario.
Severe federal and provincial under funding to date, has created crumbling and unsafe detachments, no housing for police officers, officer shortages, substandard equipment, unhealthy stress levels and officer burnout. First Nations want to see increased funding levels that will result in a stable, quality police service where officers provide communities with a safe environment and further, officers are actively involved in the healthy development of the communities that they serve.
NAPS was established in 1994 through the Nishnawbe-Aski Police Services Agreement which is an “agreement in principle” negotiated between the Government of Canada; the Government of Ontario and the Nishnawbe-Aski Nation. In 2004, NAPS faced a similar crisis with infrastructure and officer shortages. The federal and provincial governments provided a temporary “band aid” solution of installing portable trailers as interim detachments and increasing the operating budget form $9 million to $14 million. Currently, NAPS requires an operating budget of $35 million to provide a proper policing services.
NAPS provides policing services to 37 First Nation communities in the Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) territory which covers two third of the province of Ontario, or 210,000 square miles. It’s a landmass, approximately the size of France that stretches north to south from Hudson’s and James Bay to North Bay and Kenora and east to west from the Quebec border to the Manitoba border.
NAPS wants to be afforded the same treatment as any other police service in Ontario and Canada. All NAPS Officers receive the same training as other provincial and municipal police officers at the Ontario Police College in Aylmer, Ontario. NAPS officers are sworn Constables with authority throughout the Province of Ontario; however, it’s Police Services Board is run as an Ontario business corporation.
NAPS WEBSITE: http//:www.naps-net.org
For more information please contact:
Nishnawbe Aski Nation