Sheguiandah First Nation welcomes back UCCM policing

Service interrupted during 2012-13 council dispute

SHEGUIANDAH FIRST NATION—After a seven-month hiatus, the United Chiefs and Councils of Manitoulin (UCCM) Anishnaabe Police have resumed full policing authority for the Sheguiandah First Nation, thanks to full support from the community’s newly elected chief, Richard Shawanda, and council.

“We are here to confirm that the UCCM Anishnaabe Police will be taking over police services from the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP),” said Chief Shawanda during a meeting held last Friday morning at the Sheguiandah band office with himself, council, Manitoulin OPP Detachment Commander Staff Sergeant Kevin Webb and UCCM Anishnaabe Police Chief Rodney Nahwegahbow all present. “One of the first things we wanted to bring back when we were elected was the UCCM Police services. We thank the OPP for filling in.”

Chief Shawanda explained that while the OPP did an exemplary job of policing the community in the interim, the UCCM Anishnaabe Police was able to provide a cultural component specific to a First Nation community and approach situations with a different mindset that would better serve the community. This is why, he explained, several years ago, when he was also chief, he supported the development of the Anishnaabe Police on Manitoulin.

“We really appreciate all the policing and hard work done by the OPP in our community,” added Chief Shawanda. “It is a tough job, full of tough decisions, but we appreciate the OPP helping us out and the Anishnaabe Police taking us back now.”

“Rodney and I communicate regularly and when the OPP took over temporarily (servicing Sheguiandah), neither of us felt the situation was permanent,” responded Staff Sergeant Webb. “We were glad we could help in the interim, but we were hoping this would happen. The community has been very welcoming and we will complete work that we have already started on and brief Chief Nahwegahbow during the transition.”

Police Chief Nahwegahbow addressed the chief and council, thanking them for the invitation for the UCCM Anishnaabe Police to return to the community.

“I would like to extend our gratitude to the OPP for their help and to Sheguiandah for the invitation to come back and serve your community. Relationships can sometimes get shaky, but Sheguiandah had already been part of our service model and we are happy to have that model whole again,” he said.

“We are committed to a culturally sensitive policy and meeting the needs of the community,” the police chief said. “We will continue to work with the OPP on specific cases, but we are happy to resume our role here.”

As The Expositor previously reported, on April 26 the UCCM Anishinaabe Police stopped providing policing services to Sheguiandah First Nation after the Sheguiandah First Nation administration (under the previous chief and council) failed to sign the six-community agreement with the UCCM, despite a 17-year relationship.

By not signing the agreement, Sheguiandah was left without police services. According to the Police Services Act, the OPP is mandated to police any community that does not have a police service.

Residents of the Sheguiandah First Nation requiring policing services are now asked to contact the UCCM Anishnaabe Police Service at 1-705-377-7135 or 1-888-310-1122, or by calling 9-1-1 in the case of an emergency.

Robin Burridge with files from Alicia McCutcheon