PIKANGIKUM, TREATY 5 TERRITORY, ON, Feb. 16, 2021 /CNW/ – A safe and supportive environment is key to the growth and wellbeing of individuals and families in Canada. The Government of Canada works in partnership with Indigenous peoples, provincial governments and other partners to advance innovative projects that support people and help to build healthy and vibrant communities.
Today, the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services, the Honourable Doug Downey, Attorney General of Ontario, Thomas Carrique, Commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police, and Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler congratulated Pikangikum First Nation Chief Dean Owen and the community on the opening of the KII-WE-YAN Pikangikum First Nation Bail Bed and Transition Home that will provide temporary shelter and healing services for Pikangikum members, including those on bail or serving intermittent sentences. This transition home is the first of its kind in Canada. Its opening was celebrated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the milestone.
The transitional home provides community-based and culturally appropriate support, supervision and accommodation to people who have been arrested in the First Nation community. Without this program, the individual would have to fly hundreds of kilometers to Kenora, Ontario for a bail hearing, which can result in a possible detainment. This displacement can cause significant trauma to them, their families and dependants. Separation from family, community and crucial support systems during this time has been known to increase the likelihood of being rendered homeless and vulnerable to human trafficking, drug trafficking, gang recruitment and a heightened risk of repeating criminal behaviours.
The transitional housing will provide local holistic supports and cultural practices to address social and mental health issues, while keeping community members closer to their families. It will also promote community-based policing and help to address the disproportionately high representation of First Nations in the criminal justice system.
“Thanks to the hard work of Pikangikum First Nation and Chief Dean Owen, Canada now has the first transitional home on a reserve. This Indigenous-led housing project will keep families together and provides community members with the culturally informed supports they need. We are honoured to have partnered with you, and all partners, on this innovative project to promote health and healing in your community, and help to address the disproportionately high representation of First Nations in the criminal justice system.”
The Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Indigenous Services
“We could not be happier to open the transitional home in our community! For far too long, our members have had to leave our community and be away from their families to be locked up in the provincial bail-bed system. This has created irrevocable traumas and other issues for our members. I am glad we now have a safe space for them in our own community. I would like to thank my Council and the Pikangikum First Nation community partners for their dedication, hard work, and patience that made this project possible. And thank you to Canada, Ontario, Habitat for Humanity and Nishnawbe-Aski Legal Services Corporation for their collaboration.”
Chief Dean Owen
Pikangikum First Nation
“We commend Chief Owen and the members of Pikangikum for their leadership in establishing this transitional home to improve the administration of justice in their community. There is a long-standing need for community-based, culturally relevant services to decrease the trauma experienced by on-reserve members forced to leave their communities for minor sentences. We will continue to advocate for more projects and partnerships that support community-based policing and traditional forms of justice to decrease the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in the criminal justice system.”
Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler
Grand Chief of Nishnawbe Aski Nation
“As Ontario’s Attorney General, I am determined to build an accessible, responsive and resilient justice system that addresses the specific needs of Indigenous, northern, and rural communities. Our government is committed to working with First Nations communities, such as Pikangikum First Nation, to advance innovative and community-led services that make a difference.”
The Honourable Doug Downey
Attorney General of Ontario
“The Ontario Provincial Police appreciates the cooperative relationships we share with Pikangikum First Nation, ensuring the safety and well-being of all community members. We are proud of our partners for this Indigenous-led project, which will provide a safe space and culturally appropriate support for charged individuals, and look forward to the positive impact it will have in the community.”
Commissioner of Ontario Provincial Police