The chief and council of Pikangikum First Nation have expelled the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) from the community over allegations of incidents involving OPP constables.
The expulsion happened Saturday, the community said in a media release.
Mathew Hoppe, CEO of the Independent First Nation Alliance and spokesperson for Pikangikum, declined to provide details about the allegations during an interview with CBC News on Sunday, saying they’re confidential and sensitive.
“Further investigation is required,” Hoppe said.
In the release, Pikangikum said the alleged incidents occurred “over many years,” and that trust between the community and OPP has been broken, which has caused an “unsafe situation within Pikangikum which can easily escalate.”
Hoppe said currently, policing is being handled by six First Nation constables, who are employed by the community itself, and aren’t part of an external police service.
Still, the decision to expel the OPP is having an effect on health care in Pikangikum, with Indigenous Services Canada not allowing nursing staff to remain in the community overnight; all nurses are being flown out of Pikangikum each night, the community said.
Hoppe said the community is awaiting governmental response to the situation.
“What the community is seeking and looking for is an opportunity to hear from government about options and next steps about some of these allegations and the situation moving forward,” he said. “But also how to move forward quickly in terms of addressing this current gap that exists in the community police service.”
He said Pikangikum chief and council take the safety of the community very seriously, and “have had to make some very serious decisions about how to ensure that the protection of the community is maintained.”
“This is their course of action,” he said.
OPP representatives could not be reached for comment on Sunday.