Sudbury

James Bay winter road bringing drugs, alcohol into First Nations: grand chief

Bootlegging has become a concern for a First Nations grand chief near James Bay after police recently discovered a vehicle packed with beer and liquor travelling through a new ice road.

'The only people that really get the good out of this issue are the bootleggers'

'That's the unfortunate part of having a winter road. The alcohol ratio goes up,' says Mushkegowuk Council Grand Chief Jonathan Solomon. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)

Bootlegging has become a concern for a First Nations grand chief near James Bay after police recently discovered a vehicle packed with beer and liquor travelling through a new ice road. 

The First Nations of Attawapiskat, Fort Albany, Kashechewan and Moosonee have become accessible by car during the winter thanks to the opening of the 300-kilometre ice road, which is only open for a short time.

Mushkegowuk Council Grand Chief Jonathan Solomon represents the First Nations along the route and told CBC News controlling the flow of drugs and alcohol along the route is difficult.

"It's a known thing because you know anybody can come to Moosonee during the day. They have more access. That's the unfortunate part of having a winter road. The alcohol ratio goes up," Soloman said.

Last week, Nishnawbe-Aski police discovered a vehicle packed with beer and liquor on the winter ice road. 

"The only people that really get the good out of this issue are the bootleggers. They are the ones that pocket the money," Soloman said. "To me, they don't really care about anybody. All they care about is the money that's handed over to them. They don't know what they're causing. Family break ups, assaults, homes being broken into."

While it is now easier to move people and supplies in the area, the road is also challenging to monitor.

Soloman noted the alleged criminals often wait until the early morning hours to make the trek because there's less traffic on the road. Police are conducting random spot checks along the route.

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