THUNDER BAY – Northwestern Ontario First Nations face real challenges dealing with the issues facing many of these remote communities. North Spirit Lake First Nation has declared a State of Emergency over issues with an addiction epidemic and a breakdown of the community’s water system.
Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler has released the following statement in support of North Spirit Lake First Nation, as Chief Caroline Keesic has declared a State of Emergency after an escalation of the addiction epidemic and a breakdown of the community’s water system has caused widespread crisis:
“Chief and Council are overwhelmed and the situation is beyond their ability to continue to cope alone. We are mobilizing an emergency response to provide immediate assistance and are doing everything we can to try to stabilize and support the community. We are coordinating shipments of food, clothing and other supplies that will be sent to the community as soon as possible. We are also arranging for a crisis team to reach the community as quickly as possible to provide mental health and other supports. We know the community is in crisis and we want the people of North Spirit Lake to know that help is on the way. We are trying to address their immediate needs and will work with Chief and Council to improve infrastructure and addiction treatment programs for the long-term health of the community.”
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.