Ontario First Nation pleads for help

An isolated Indian band in northwestern Ontario has declared a state of emergency and issued a plea for help to fight drug abuse and violent crime.

Crime, drug abuse create 'desperate' situation, chief says

A remote First Nation in northwestern Ontario has declared a state of emergency because of ongoing violence and is asking for outside help to get things under control.

The Eabametoong First Nation is home to 1,200 people, but since January it has had three homicides and nearly 50 incidents of arson, as well as a number of animal mutilations.

"The situation in our community has escalated out of control. Please help the people of Eabametoong," Chief Lewis Nate said Friday.

He called the situation "desperate" in the community, located 300 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay and accessible only by plane, and said abuse of prescription drugs is fuelling the crisis.

"We need help. We're in a situation where people are living in fear. We are in a situation where we can't function as a community — in all areas of our lives," he said.

The chief said young people are responsible for roughly half the crimes in recent months.

Sgt. Jackie George of the Nishnawbe Aski Police Service, which has five officers in the community, said they have investigated a number of violent incidents in Eabametoong this year involving young people. She said any extra help for the beleaguered community would be welcome.

Kenora MP Greg Rickford said help is on the way, including $275,000 to repair and reopen one of the arson targets, the community's only school. Rickford said support staff from Health Canada and Indian and Northern Affairs will also arrive in Eabametoong early next week.