THUNDER BAY – Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Deputy Grand Chief Mike Metatawabin is demanding action by the Government of Canada, in particular Health Canada, to support Cat Lake First Nation in the community’s state-of-emergency declaration due to the high level of prescription drug abuse (PDA) among its members. On Monday January 23, 2012, Chief Matthew Keewaykapow declared a state-of-emergency stating that the situation is widespread ‘approximately 70 per cent use rate’ and Cat Lake First Nation ‘is no longer able to cope with the demands, community security, and health and safety issues placed on the Chief and Council, band Staff, existing Health Clinic/Nursing Station and Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service Resources.’
“PDA is an urgent issue undermining the physical, mental, spiritual and emotional well-being of NAN First Nation members. Yet again, we see the struggle of another First Nation trying to deal with the harmful effects of PDA,” said NAN Deputy Grand Chief Mike Metatawabin, who holds NAN’s health portfolio. “The epidemic throughout NAN territory has created an added strain on our communities, contributing to higher rates of family violence, sex-trade and other crime-related incidents including the potential for even higher suicide rates as the situation continues to escalate. We need action and commitment by the government now – not weeks, months or years from now – today!”
NAN Chiefs-in-Assembly declared a NAN-wide state-of-emergency in November 2009, as a result of the PDA epidemic in NAN communities.
Cat Lake First Nation is a remote community located in Ontario’s Far North, approximately 180 kilometers northwest of the municipality of Sioux Lookout, ON.