A rash of break-ins and vandalism in Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation has resulted in a day care being closed until at least June 27 and nursing station operations suspended temporarily.
A break-in at one of the residences where nurses stay was reported to Nelson House RCMP around 11:30 p.m. on June 16. No one was home at the time of the incident and no injuries resulted but extensive damage was done inside, say police, who received reports of several youths having been seen in the area but have not made any arrests.
The NCN Family and Community Wellness Centre said in a Facebook post that fire extinguishers were discharged in the residence and windows and electronics spray-painted.
NCN Chief Marcel Moody said in a Facebook post shortly after the break-in that the nursing station would be closed until further notice as the nursing staff had been instructed to leave the community since they no longer feel safe.
“The nurses are upset and feel extremely violated by the needless and senseless act of stupidity and utter disrespect of property and safety of others,” Moody wrote. “Our nurses who have worked tirelessly for our people for more than 20 years on average don’t deserve this type of treatment.”
Indigenous Services Canada told the Thompson Citizen June 22 that the decision to temporarily close the nursing station was “not taken lightly” and was made in consultation with the RCMP and in recognition that the health and safety of the department’s primary care practitioners in the community is of the utmost importance.
The nursing station reopened over the weekend of June 18, ISC said.
“The need to continue to provide access and continued delivery of healthcare services to NCN community members remains a priority,” said a department spokesperson in an emailed statement. “ISC is committed to open, transparent and regular ongoing communication with the community’s leadership and is working in partnership on the assessment of the situation and on solutions that meets the health and security needs of both community members and healthcare workers.”
In an update June 21, RCMP said that two youths involved in the break-in at the residence had been identified and that one of them, aged 13, faces charges in connection to the incident. The other one, aged 11, will not face charges because he is under 12 years old.
RCMP also received a report around 12:30 p.m. on June 15 of a vehicle belonging to one of the paramedics in the community being vandalized, with one of the windows smashed.
“Even the EMS trailer and vehicles were damaged this past week,” Moody wrote. “”[B]eing involved in these break-ins can have unintended consequences. How would you feel if someone can’t get access to medical treatment because your actions forced our medical staff to leave NCN? NCN, we need to hold each other accountable and we certainly need to know where [our] children are and what they are up to. NCN, we are better than this!"
Those two incidents are not the only break-ins and vandalism to have occurred in the community within the past week. Less than 24 hours before the nurses’ residence was broken into, three suspects identified as “young individuals” by the NCN Family and Community Wellness Centre broke into the day care centre, discharging a fire extinguisher and throwing clothes and blankets around. The resulting damage is estimated to be more than $10,000 worth and will result in the day care being closed until at least June 27.
Between 9 p.m and 11 p.m. on June 16, rocks were thrown at one of the day care’s windows, breaking it and raising the possibility that the closure may extend beyond June 27.
On June 11, a person in a white hoodie with a red emblem on the front, long black shorts and white running shoes, threw two rocks through a window on Hillside, causing significant damage.
The Family and Community Wellness Centre urges anyone with information about the incidents to contact Nelson House RCMP at 204-484-2837 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-8477. Tips can also be submitted online at www.manitobacrimestoppers.com.