Eabametoong First Nation (EFN) – Eabametoong First Nation celebrated the opening of its new police detachment today with an official ribbon cutting ceremony and a feast.
“Our community waited a long time for a proper police station. Our past leadership and the current leadership lobbied hard for it. I am very happy and proud of what we have built here for our community and for our Nishnawbe Police Service (NAPS) officers,” said EFN Chief Elizabeth Atlookan.
The new station is over 5000 square feet and is designed as a five-person detachment. EFN is currently staffed with four NAPS officers. The detachment boasts 4 cells with sprinkler protection, one short term holding cell, a sally port for two vehicles plus snow- machines, guard room & fingerprint area, secure interview rooms for prisoners and victims, Police Chief’s office and meeting room, general office for the constables. There are approximately 1200 community members being served by the police detachment. The community had been utilizing a string of sub-standard temporary facilities including the last facility, which had been two connected office trailers.
“We now have what most of the people in Ontario and Canada take for granted, an appropriate police facility that is a safe and secure place for police officers, community members, and for individuals who are being held in custody,” said Chief Atlookan, “I want to thank all those who helped lobby on our behalf, especially former Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Harvey Yesno and current NAN Grand Chief, Alvin Fiddler. They both went to bat for our First Nation to make sure we got what we needed.”
NAN Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler called on government agencies and ministries to work with First Nations to ensure that all First Nation communities have proper police stations.
“Every First Nation should have a police detachment that meets its needs. This is an example of what can be achieved when barriers come down,” said Grand Chief Fiddler, “I want to acknowledge the community’s persistence and hard work. I remember visiting Eabametoong with an audit team at a time when EFN had the worst police station in NAN. The audit team was shocked because the conditions were deplorable. Today we can be proud of what has been accomplished here. It gives hope to the other NAN First Nations, which still have sub-standard police facilities.”
“I used to be a NAPS police officer,” said Zacharias Tait, Vice Chair of the NAPS Board of Directors, “Seeing this police detachment makes me want to come back.”
In attendance was Eabametoong First Nation Chief and Council members; EFN Workers; EFN community members; NAN Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler; NAN Deputy Grand Chief Terry Waboose; Matawa First Nations Management CEO David Paul Achneepineskum; Shammi Sandhu of Public Safety Canada; Graham Gleeson, Director of First Nations Policing, Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services; Zacharias Tait, Vice Chair, NAPS Board of Directors; Terry Armstrong, NAPS, Chief of Police; Former Acting Chief of Police for NAPS Bob Herman; OPP Deputy Commissioner Gary Couture; Inspector John Kendrick, OPP Northwest Division; Superintendent Darrell Smiley, OPP Northwest Region Commander; Jeff Willett, OPP Facilities; Dave Forester, Pawliuk Interplan Design; Dan Ugray, DG & Associates; Morrice Reid, Reid Construction,