Pubdate: Fri, 15 Jan 2016
Source: Northern News (CN ON)
Copyright: 2016 Northern News
Author: Alan S. Hale
Page: A2


TIMMINS - An effort is being made to cut off the flow of illegal drugs
making its way into Moose Cree First Nation.

The First Nation announced Wednesday it will be spending hundreds of
thousands of dollars of its own money to pay for two additional police
officers and their equipment to begin working in the island community
for the next year to crack down on drug trafficking.

The additional officers will be sent to Moose Factory from the
Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service (NAPS) but according to the force they
will be regular-duty officers, not drug enforcement officers.

Nonetheless, the First Nation and NAPS have signed a Memorandum of
Understanding which underscores "their joint commitment to fight drug
trafficking, and to work together to ensure a safe and healthy community."

"Today is a significant day for our community," said Moose Cree Chief
Norm Hardisty Jr. said in a statement. "Our people have been clear
that they want steps taken to reduce drug abuse and the trafficking of
drugs in our community. We recognize that drug use is destructive. It
is hurting our children, families and community and we are committed
to working with the Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service to prevent and
reduce it to the greatest extent possible."

Community members stated during a recent series of town hall meetings
dealing with local social problems that the prevalent abuse of drugs
such as cocaine within their community was one of their top concerns.

It was at that point, the chief and council decided they may need more
manpower to bring the drug situation under control.

Moose Cree Deputy-Chief Earl Cheechoo said drug abuse and addiction in
his community is not all that different than what you would see in
Timmins. However, because of how small and close-knit community is,
one person's drug problem can affect everyone.

"People put drugs before their families, before their own well-being,
before their basic needs," said Cheechoo. "It impacts their kids, the
family, the whole community is affected."

With two extra officers on the island reserve, the hope is that it
will make smuggling in and selling drugs much more difficult. Cheechoo
said if there is a significant drop in the amount ofdrugs, the
community will look at making the new positions permanent.

But the deputy-chief is sceptical that even two more officers will
truly be able to make a huge impact because of the chronic
underfunding that the Aboriginal police service has been dealing with
for many years. It is something he and the rest of the community
leaders want the federal government to address.

"Right now we lack the resources to tackle this issue," said Cheechoo.
"OPP and NAPS are two different types of police forces. In comparison,
OPP in Moosonee (off-reserve) have 15 officers, while NAPS in Moose
Factory (on-reserve) has eight officers. Both places have the same

"NAPS has tried their best to protect this community over the years,
but it's been hard for them to do it. So the leadership of the Moose
Cree have stepped in to get more resources for our police force."
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MAP posted-by: Matt