Staying home? M’Chigeeng Hwy 540 checkpoint reveals travellers heading to ‘camp’

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 April 8, M’Chigeeng First Nation Ogimaa-kwe Linda Debassige announced her community would be instituting a volunteer-led checkpoint on Highway 540 at the east entrance to M’Chigeeng, its goal intended to establish where travellers are coming from, their destinations and their reasons for travel as the community’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and, specifically, concerns about who is travelling through the M’Chigeeng territory along the Highway 540 corridor. Statistics were gathered from travellers both west- and east-bound.

Last week the ogimaa-kwe released six days of data to Manitoulin’s municipalities and First Nations, which The Expositor has also had the chance to review.

From April 9 to April 14, the Highway 540 checkpoint volunteers stopped 1,944 vehicles. Thirty-one percent of those vehicles (and their drivers and passengers) were coming from off-Island and 47 percent of these indicated they were going to their camp or to self-isolate on Manitoulin. Twenty seven percent of those off-Island travellers did not specify (the answers are voluntary) with the volunteers as to why they were on Manitoulin. The remaining 69 percent of travellers came from across Manitoulin. NOTE: It should be noted that it is impossible from the data received to differentiate Islanders who may have been coming home from an offIsland shopping trip, for example, from those who live away from Manitoulin so these numbers may be skewed. 

The highest travelled day fell on Good Friday, April 14, which was also the last day of the statistics released by M’Chigeeng. Numbers of travellers steadily increased throughout the six-day period.

A breakdown of the six days is as follows: April 9: total travellers, 206; off-Island travellers, 108; number of travellers giving ‘camp’ or ‘self-isolate’ as a reason for travelling to Manitoulin, 26; number of off-Island travellers that did not specify a reason, 52; checkpoint run-throughs (drivers did not stop), one. April 10: total travellers, 369; off-Island travellers, 169; number of travellers giving ‘camp’ or ‘self-isolate’ as a reason for travelling to Manitoulin, 79; number of off-Island travellers that did not specify a reason, 20; checkpoint run-throughs (drivers did not stop), five. April 11: total travellers, 406; off-Island travellers, 142; number of travellers giving ‘camp’ or ‘self-isolate’ as a reason for travelling to Manitoulin, 52; number of off-Island travellers that did not specify a reason, 10; checkpoint run-throughs (drivers did not stop), seven. April 12: total travellers, 202; off-Island travellers, 61; number of travellers giving ‘camp’ or ‘self-isolate’ as a reason for travelling to Manitoulin, 17; number of off-Island travellers that did not specify a reason, eight; checkpoint run-throughs (drivers did not stop), none. April 13: total travellers, 343; off-Island travellers, 77; number of travellers giving ‘camp’ or ‘self-isolate’ as a reason for travelling to Manitoulin, 19; number of off-Island travellers that did not specify a reason, 18; checkpoint run-throughs (drivers did not stop), 13. And April 14: total travellers, 418; off-Island travellers, 131; number of travellers giving ‘camp’ or ‘self-isolate’ as a reason for travelling to Manitoulin, 28; number of off-Island travellers that did not specify a reason, 35; checkpoint run-throughs (drivers did not stop), six.