M’Chigeeng launches Hwy 540 checkpoint at east entrance of community

Volunteers are busy operating the Highway 540 checkpoint, just before the hill leading into the community, on Monday afternoon. photo by Andrew Corbiere

M’CHIGEENG FIRST NATION – On March 29, the chief and council of M’Chigeeng passed a Band Council Motion for the establishment of checkpoints in M’Chigeeng First Nation as a safety measure in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“M’Chigeeng First Nation’s priority is to do what is necessary to protect the elderly and vulnerable of the community which represents approximately 600 residents of its on-reserve population,” Ogimaa-kwe Linda Debassige said in an April 9 press release.

M’Chigeeng First Nation has sought volunteers within the First Nation to assist in the planning, co-ordination and implementation of these checkpoints and has had discussions in collaboration with the UCCM Anishnaabe Police and is working to ensure all emergency services are informed of the checkpoint and are aware of their free passage through. 

The first and inaugural checkpoint was established at the east entrance of M’Chigeeng First Nation, Hwy 540 within the territory of M’Chigeeng First Nation. The checkpoint  commenced operation on Thursday, April 9 at 4 pm. Other checkpoints will gradually be set up at other entrances in the future. 

The purpose of the checkpoint is to establish where people are coming from and where they are going. Data will be collected including vehicle information and number of occupants. Travellers will be provided educational information as it relates to the COVID-19 virus including messaging from the chief and council, the premier of Ontario as well as information on precautionary measures. 

“M’Chigeeng First Nation has taken steps to address the issue of cottagers and seasonal residents within the boundaries of M’Chigeeng First Nation; however, those who are going through to other areas and municipalities will be free to do so,” Ogimaa-kwe Debassige added. 

M’Chigeeng First Nation advises travellers coming through M’Chigeeng First Nation to be patient and to abide by the mandate of chief and council and to respect the front-line volunteers who are exercising their duty to protect the elderly and vulnerable. 

“It is important that we take courageous steps to intensify our efforts in the battle against COVID-19,” said Ogimaa-kwe Debassige. “It is imperative we do our part to establish these necessary precautions in order to protect lives. I am proud of all our First Nation partners who are doing what they can to prevent the spread and limit movement within our areas. This checkpoint not only serves to benefit the people of M’Chigeeng but by extension the neighbouring municipalities.”

“We (First Nations and municipalities) all need to contribute to this effort in establishing creative and out-of-the-norm solutions to effectively combat this virus,” the chief continued. “With First Nations and municipalities equally doing their part we have a better chance at protecting Manitoulin Island and those we love. Now more than ever we all have to work together to do the right thing—lives depend on it.”

For more information please contact the M’Chigeeng administration office at 705-377-5362 or email inquiries to the executive assistant to chief and council at melaniec@mchigeeng.ca.