NORTH SPIRIT LAKE: Chief Caroline Keesic and members of Council have declared a State of Emergency as an escalation of drugs fueling the addiction epidemic and a breakdown of the community’s water system has caused widespread crisis in North Spirit Lake First Nation.
“Our community has been devastated by an influx of drugs and breakdowns in vital infrastructure. Our people are suffering, and we are beyond our ability to respond with the necessary supports”, said Chief Caroline Keesic. “We had no choice but to call this State of Emergency as we require an immediate response from the appropriate federal and provincial agencies with resources to support our members suffering from harmful addictions and to help leadership stabilize the community.”
There have been interruptions in essential services such as power and water due to a lack of operational personnel. North Spirit Lake leadership, community workers, NAPS police officers, and nursing staff are operating at maximum capacity. There is no doubt that the crisis situation will worsen without a coordinated effort by all appropriate governmental departments, agencies, and partners to deploy critical resources and relief.
Community leaders are working non-stop to coordinate an emergency response and are doing everything possible to ensure that mental health and counselling supports are available to the community, especially for high-risk members who need urgent medical attention and specialized care.
The remote Oji-Cree community has suffered for years from long-standing issues stemming from severe addiction and mental health issues. These have been exacerbated by a recent influx of drugs in the community, leading to a significant shortage of services and resources critical to the effective management of crisis relief for community members and workers.
North Spirit Lake is located approximately 170 kilometers northeast Red Lake, Ontario on the southwest shore of North Spirit Lake. It is accessible only by air and seasonal winter roads.