Community Justice Program

The Creating a Safer Ontario through Community Collaboration Project is designed to enhance safety and well-being in Wikwemikong, through the development of a coordinated service delivery model to address the opioid crisis. Wikwemikong Police Services will collaborate with community agencies to combat drug related crime activity by using a client centred intensive case management process.

This approach will work on rehabilitating the offender to be a productive citizen of Wikwemikong and thus decrease the spread of organized crime in Indigenous communities.

With a population of approximately 4000 people, Wikwemikong Unceded Territory is one of the largest and fastest growing First Nation communities in Canada. It is founded on three tribal nations; Odawa, Pottawotami and Ojibway. Wikwemikong is composed of seven settlements: Kaboni, Buzwah, South Bay, Rabbit Island, Murray Hill, Cape Smith, and Wikwemikongsing. While the community has much to be proud of with many thriving individuals, pristine waters and lands, strong language, culture and heritage, the consequences of centuries of colonial oppression are also undeniably present. Community police and health statistics indicate that addictions have been shifting from alcohol related addictions to opioid addictions and that these addictions are rapidly increasing. The result is rising health and social problems, including chronic drug-related illnesses, mental health issues, family violence, loss of children into foster care, trafficking of women, crime, vandalism and breakdown of the social fabric of parts of the community. A recent major drug operation in northeastern Ontario undertaken by provincial and Wikwemikong Tribal Police resulted in charges of possession and trafficking of controlled substances and weapons offences.

The tribal police estimate that for each opioid addicted individual there are ten people in the family whose health and mental health is affected by drug-related consequences. The community has mobilized and become proactive in addressing opioid drug use and there is a strong interest to create a safer community by moving away from a punitive approach. The community offers opioid replacement therapy, a therapy that uses medications to treat addictions to drugs such as heroin, morphine, and OxyContin. This community owned, culturally safe approach to opioid replacement therapy called Naandwe Miikaan (Healing Path) supports addicted community members from an Indigenous wellness perspective. A major component of this program includes traditional counselling and land-based activities to support recovery. The next step in to address opioids in Wikwemikong will be for police officers to support alternative justice circles for those addicted to opioids and attempt to connect these individuals with community services that address health and mental health issues, and the whole spectrum of social determinants such as early childhood trauma, housing, education, culture and feelings of belonging.

Reduce drug related offences and incarceration rates of Indigenous offenders entering into the criminal justice system; reduce the impact of victimization and safety for the general public, including-reducing long-term consequences such as Indigenous children in child welfare system, reduction of drug related crimes such as theft and family violence, reduction of trafficking and prostitution of Indigenous women.

Statistics will be tracked as part of the performance measures and include crime statistics, number of children returned from child welfare system.