‘Another Failing Remote Reserve’

“A remote Manitoba ‘First Nation’ has declared a state of emergency after a fire destroyed the community’s only grocery store along with its Band office
…said Shamattawa Chief Jeffrey Napaokesik. Napaokesik called it a “total loss”… 

“The chief said he is working with the manager of the community’s destroyed ‘Northern Store’, owned by the ‘North West Company’, to create an emergency food store at the reserve’s community centre…

“There is no road access to Shamattawa {a ‘nation’ of 1,426 people}. All food must be flown into the isolated community about 745 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg. 

“The chief said he has spoken to officials with ‘Indigenous’ and Northern Affairs Canada’ in Winnipeg about the situation and they have offered assistance, as well.

“They’re going to assist as much as they can with everything that’s happened — with our store and with our band office,” he said.

“Nearly everyone in Shamattawa was attending a community funeral Thursday afternoon when the fire started around 2:30 p.m., Napaokesik said.

“By the time Shamattawa’s fire department arrived on scene, smoke was already billowing out of band office windows and the building was unsafe to enter. All firefighters could do was try to save the Northern Store next door, but that proved impossible as well, said Napaokesik.


The community’s radio station and emergency call centre were also destroyed Thursday when the Band office caught fire, along with Shamattawa’s community internet towers.

“As a result, Napaokesik said he’s been going door-to-door to check on and speak with Shamattawa’s approximately 1,500 residents.

“I’ve got no way to spread the word,” he said.

“The chief plans to set up a temporary band office in the coming days and re-route all calls to his office through the community’s only school.

“Shamattawa was under a boil-water advisory earlier this summer but the chief said the water is currently safe to drink. They will be receiving emergency bottled water in case that changes.

“RCMP are still investigating the cause of Thursday’s fire, said Napaokesik.

“In 2015, Shamattawa was hit with a suicide crisis when four young people took their lives in just six weeks.”

–‘Shamattawa declares state of emergency after fire destroys only grocery store, band office’,
Laura Glowacki, CBC News, September 22, 2016
FEATURE Photo: Robert Rezhead—Facebook



‘First Nation’ has history of violent deaths’

“Bad news has been trickling out of Shamattawa over the last decade. Suicides, solvent abuse and violence have dominated headlines about the remote northern reserve, a fly-in community on the north shore of God’s River, 750 kilometres north of Winnipeg. About 1,350 people live in Shamattawa.

“Shamattawa, which is among the poorest reserves in the province, made national headlines in July 2002, when then-chief William Miles declared a state of emergency after three people committed suicide and another 39 attempted suicide in less than eight days.

“In 2007, more than one-quarter of the youths on the reserve either attempted suicide or threatened to end their lives.

“In May 2008, four kids attempted suicide — the youngest was nine. They were among the 47 people who attempted to kill themselves in the first five months of that year.

Shamattawa is supposed to be a dry reserve, but alcohol and solvent abuse are common. Solvents like gas, paint thinner, glue and other products that produce a high when inhaled are frequently abused on the reserve.

“A 16-year-old girl from Shamattawa was charged with second-degree murder in the death of a 15-year-old girl in January, 2007. The girls had been sniffing gasoline or solvents when they got into a dispute. The younger girl was hit on the head with a log.

“‘Awasis Agency of Northern Manitoba’ is one of the biggest and most troubled aboriginal child welfare agencies in the province. It serves a dozen of the poorest and most remote communities, including Shamattawa…”

–‘First Nation’ has history of violent deaths’,
Winnipeg Free Press, 01/7/2010


“Members of the volunteer fire department on the Shamattawa ‘First Nation’ could not be found when this home burned down in January, 2010, killing an 11-year-old boy.” (CBC) http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/first-nations-fire-services-in-crisis-1.895234
“Members of the volunteer fire department on the Shamattawa ‘First Nation’ could not be found when this home burned down in January, 2010, killing an 11-year-old boy.” (CBC)

From 2013:
“A young man who fatally stabbed a violent party guest on a northern Manitoba reserve has been handed a six-month jail sentence.

“In a case that shines a grim light on social issues that plague the remote northern community of Shamattawa, provincial court Judge Murray Thompson ruled against a request from provincial prosecutors to keep the offender in jail for a longer period.

“Conditions on Shamattawa ‘First Nation’ were taken into account when a 19-year-old man was sentenced to six months additional custody for a killing he committed as a youth.

“The now-19-year-old man recently pleaded guilty to manslaughter. He cannot be identified because he was charged and sentenced as a youth for the killing of Charles Beardy, 39, on Nov. 27, 2011. The Crown did not seek an adult sentence.

“The actions of the accused fell short of murder due to a combination of factors where the Crown could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt he had the requisite intent to kill,” Thompson said in a recent written decision made public Friday.

“After noting the offender’s time served on remand, the judge ordered he spend a further six months of community supervision with probation to follow.

“Beardy was stabbed a single time through a crack in a door while trying to force his way back into a party he was kicked out of due to a violent outburst.

“Witnesses said Beardy attacked the offender’s mother and knocked her unconscious with a board, prior to being thrown out of the party. Another guest was also struck, Thompson said.

“That’s for beating up my mom,”

the offender, then 17, said after the stabbing, according to witnesses.

“I tried to scare him off — I think I got him,”

he reportedly said. Beardy was found collapsed on a nearby road by local RCMP.

“The “chaotic” party scene and conflicting information about who was responsible triggered a lengthy {expensive} police investigation. The offender wasn’t charged for killing Beardy until weeks after the incident.

“Beardy had an extensive record for violent crimes, which included 27 various assault convictions since 1997, and the offender had witnessed Beardy committing violent acts in the past, Thompson said.

“Defence lawyer Dan Manning told court the youth was “terrified” of Beardy’s actions that night. He had no prior criminal record.

“(His actions) appear to be a one-time event given the unique circumstances he faced on the night in question,” Thompson said. “Given his lack of prior record, excellent behaviour while in custody, non-violent attitude and genuine remorse, this very much appears to be an out-of-character incident.”

“In his sentencing report, Thompson undertook a full analysis of the alarming social conditions in Shamattawa, a remote community located in northeastern Manitoba, and how they specifically relate to the offender’s actions. A report presented to the court painted a “bleak” picture of a community, where 61% of the housing is in need of major repair {with none of the residents doing any}, unemployment is rampant and just five per cent of the population has a high school diploma.

“The community of Shamattawa is plagued with numerous issues including substance abuse, domestic violence, sexual abuse, child abuse, child neglect, family breakdown and dysfunction, lack of foster homes, youth violence, shortage of housing, poverty, low income, lack of employment and educational opportunities,” Thompson said.

“The ‘intergenerational effects’ of abuses brought about by ‘colonization’ {Roads and electricity} and the residential schools system {Reading and writing} has left Shamattawa’s large number of youth facing a “staggering” number of {self-created} challenges, Thompson said. He listed 24 of them, including alcohol and drug abuse, eating disorders, “becoming oppressors and abusers of others” and rage and anger among them. Youth suicide also remains a serious concern, he indicated.

“Suicide levels reflect the bleak outlook in Shamattawa,” the judge said. “In 2007, 74 youth attempted suicide. During the first five months of 2008, 47 people attempted suicide, this from an on reserve population base of less than 1,500 people,” he added.


“The offender himself admitted “that there is really nothing else to do in Shamattawa but to consume alcohol or intoxicants” {You could start repairing homes, or chopping firewood, or learning to play a musical instrument, or read a book, or go fishing or hunting or camping, or help out the old folks…}, Thompson said. “Overall, (he) is not favourable towards crime and he does not have a propensity towards violence. He recognizes the impact his actions had on himself, his family and his community,” the report said, according to the judge.

“Raised in a stable home by his grandparents until he was 10, the accused afterwards bounced in and out of foster care when his parents’ major substance abuse issues caused Child and Family Services to step in and apprehend him. His four siblings are also in CFS care.

“At age 14, he attended a residential treatment program to deal with his drinking. He was eventually placed in a Winnipeg foster home and was excelling in school before the stabbing and his arrest, Thompson said.

“It is not surprising that in this context of community and social dysfunction, that (he) became involved with the criminal justice system,” said Thompson.

“Given the ‘unique factors’ of the case and the nature of ‘youth-justice’ laws, further jail time was not required, Thompson said. His community supervision prohibits him from drinking, puts him on a nightly curfew and he must take any counselling as directed by corrections officials.”

‘Teen given six months for Shamattawa killing’,
James Turner, Winnipeg Free Press, 12/1/2013



“A young boy suffered serious injuries and had to be flown to hospital in Winnipeg after being attacked by a pack of stray dogs on Shamattawa ‘First Nation’…

“Shamattawa RCMP responded around 9 a.m…for a report of a six-year-old boy attacked by a pack of dogs in the community, about 850 kilometres northeast of Thompson.

“Police said the boy was standing outside a home when the attack happened…

“The chief of Shamattawa told ‘CTV News’ the boy was bit in the face and had to undergo surgery…

“‘CTV News’ has been told several other people on the First Nation have been attacked over the past few months by wild dogs.

“After the incident involving the six-year-old boy, the ‘First Nation’s chief said the community demanded a dog cull. CTV News has learned the cull started on April 9.

“Yvonne Russell from ‘Paw Tipsters’ previously started an online petition to ban culls on ‘First Nations’, after a dog nicknamed Trooper was found injured and left to die on a northern reserve.

“If they are going to be putting them down, do it humanely,” she said.

“Russell said in some cases, injured dogs are tossed into pits and burned. She plans to take her petition to government officials in Ottawa.

“In Shamattawa, pet owners are being told to keep their dogs inside while the cull is underway.”

–‘Community puts dog cull into effect after boy, 6, seriously injured by pack of stray animals’,
CTV Winnipeg, April 9, 2013



From 2011:
“If you build it, they will come. That was the theory.

“It” was the arena and community centre Shamattawa ‘First Nation’ started building more than 10 years ago. “They” were the children and youth of the remote ‘First Nation’ with about 1,300 residents, which has been plagued in recent years by attempted and successful youth suicides.

“Unfortunately, the construction process went awry before the arena was completed, snarling the half-built facility in {aboriginal} legal limbo and threatening to turn it into a very noticeable white elephant, rather than the community gathering place it had been envisioned as.

“The story begins in 1999.

“That’s when we had the arena,” says Nancy Thomas, a ‘Building Healthy Communities’ mental health worker in Shamattawa. “That’s when it was built.”

“But only partially. When the facility was about 80% complete, the ‘First Nation’ ran out of money for the project and would have had to obtain a second loan in order to finish the job, says Shamattawa Chief Jeffrey Napoakesik.

“At that time, it was quite difficult to pass that approval to the chief and council because of the financial situation and we couldn’t, we couldn’t handle it,” he explains. “So it was decided not to ask for a second loan and just leave the arena as is, but to try and ask for support from the provincial government and the federal government to complete the rest of the 20%.”

“That decision didn’t sit too well with the company contracted to construct the arena.

“The contractor was quite upset,” says Napoakesik. “It was ‘Sky Contractors’ and the guy that was heading that was Forbes Campbell … he was a lawyer, an aboriginal lawyer that was able to take the ‘First Nation’ to court because he can do so because he was Indian status {Only a ‘Status Indian’ can take a ‘First Nation’ to court under Canada’s Race Laws…}. No government could talk to us or agency could talk to us because it was before the courts. They couldn’t say anything until we managed to throw it out of the court.”

“The whole time that was going on, the partly finished building was off limits and unmaintained.

“We couldn’t use it,” said Thomas. “It was there all that time, you couldn’t go in, it was closed. It stayed like that for nine years.”

“Trouble for the arena project had actually started long before the Band ran out of money to complete it, not long after construction started.

“We were under diesel power generation and we couldn’t use the arena because it required vast amounts of electricity by our standards, but if we were connected to the main grid line that wouldn’t be such a problem.”

“As construction progressed, the builders adjusted plans to try and complete the building within the Band’s budget.

“The contractor decided to try and make the arena work. The cement foundation for the rink, it’s not built to standard. It’s built as substandard and I suppose he did that because he was trying to fit an arena with the amount of money that we had…,” said Napoakesik.

After construction was halted due to lack of funds, the ‘First Nation’ was stripped of its ability to make spending decisions, moving the arena project even further back in Shamattawa’s list of priorities.

“During the financial difficulty, we were thrown into what is called a third-party management, where a third party would come and manage all our financial affairs,” Napoakesik says. “That cost the community by doing away with other luxuries and just looked after basic services such as the social program, some of the housing program. The Band was left with skeletal resources {As a result of the previous financial mismanagement…} to try and operate a Band office and as well chief and council.”


“Over the past few years, as the provincial and federal government injected stimulus funding into infrastructure projects, there was hope in Shamattawa that the ‘First Nation’ might be able to qualify for money to complete the long-awaited arena…

“The community still decided to go ahead and try and put in money as much as we can every year but you know, our effort we feel, is useless,” said Napoakesik. “We put in money. We roll two steps forward then one step back.”

Much of the work that was already completed would need to be redone to bring the arena back to a usable state.

“It has deteriorated to the point that we have to go back and redo some of the stuff because there’s mould problems there, there’s been rust on the metal beams and all that stuff,” said Napoakesik.

“Still, Shamattawa has tried to make use of the building to the extent that it can.

“In February 2010, Thomas says, the building was opened and an attempt to clean it out was made. Later that year, it was used to host the 100th year anniversary of Shamattawa’s adhesion to ‘Treaty No. 5’.

“There was a lot of mould,” Thomas says. “Still today, there’s no ventilation.”

“During winter months, attempts have been made to use the arena for one of its intended purposes — as a place to play hockey.

“They tried to flood that but it didn’t work,” said Thomas, though it attracted plenty of skaters. “It was just full. The ice lasted for a while and then it started cracking.”

“The longer the unfinished arena sits empty, says Napoakesik, the worse its condition becomes.

“There is some vandalism that does happen,” he says. “You know, kids want to go there and they’re very curious what’s in there and want to use the arena somehow. They try to skate on there and have indoor activities but, you know, some of that leads to vandalism, you know, all that, damage of the lights and all.”

The cost to complete the arena has now risen to nearly twice the original budget. The ‘First Nation’ commissioned a report from an engineering firm that estimated it will cost $3 million to bring the facility into a functional state.

“Recently I made a challenge to {aboriginal} deputy premier, Minister Eric Robinson to come to our community and make a commitment of $3 million,” says Napoakesik. “I met up with Minister Eric Robinson last week in his office and I asked him again if he can commit funds to the Shamattawa arena and there was really no answer, no favourable reply. He said that he was going to visit my community and I said no, if you’re going to visit my community prepare to be, you know, commit $3 million to the ‘First Nation’ or else, don’t come at all.”

“The chief notes that Robinson, minister of aboriginal and northern affairs, announced in June that that the provincial government would contribute $5 million towards the construction of a new arena in Peguis ‘First Nation’, to replace the previous facility, which was destroyed by a 2007 fire. The provincial contribution represents about one-third of the total construction cost…

“The community believes that this could be not all of the solution, but one of the solutions to try and counter that effect,” said Napoakesik. “We’re dealing with suicide in the community and also elsewhere the provincial government commits $5 million to the nearest, their neighbouring community, ‘First Nation’ community. We are very, quite upset by that. We’re not asking for that size or standard of arena.”

–‘A decade later, Shamattawa arena remains an unfulfilled dream’,
Ian Graham, Thompson Citizen, SEPTEMBER 9, 2011



See also:
‘Fire Kills On Reserves’:

‘Lack of Personal Responsibility Killing Reserve Aboriginals’ (Smoke Alarms): https://endracebasedlawcanadanews.wordpress.com/2016/04/02/lack-of-personal-responsibility-killing-reserve-aboriginals/

‘Moving is the only hope’ (Remote Reserves):

The Folly Of ‘Gladue’:
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1 Comment

  1. The fire truck was out of commission like a lot of their houses etc because they don’t repair and or fix — they expect everyone else to do it!! Same with their damn mental issues and as for the children?? Where are their baby makers? I would call them parents but that would be giving them too much credit. Wish they would take responsibility and take care of their kids or the fire may not have happened!! As for getting supplies in?? Are they grateful for our ice road truckers who haul in goods and risk their lives in the winter? Are they grateful to the pilots who fly in crappy weather to do the same thing? Are they grateful for the many people who contributed and to Perimeter who flew the provisions in after the fire? Are they grateful to Canadians who pay taxes (many are poor themselves & still take care of their families) to pay for the Native/Aboriginal/First Nations/Aboriginals or whatever the hell they are calling themselves now?? Haven’t heard anything positive yet nor have they thanked and showed appreciation for Canada’s help!!!Hell no they just keep bellyaching and demanding more “funding” while threatening to “bring Canada to its knees”!! The blame game and the expectation that they “need” to be taken care of and are “owed” is old and stupid!!!


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