Mattagami First Nation celebrated the grand opening of a new Nishnawbe-Aski Police Services (NAPS) detachment building in its community Aug. 19.
In recent years, NAPS detachment buildings have been developed as prefabricated buildings and imported into First Nations. However, through lobbying and co-operative efforts, the community was able to construct the building from scratch and also provided some employment opportunities to members of Mattagami.
The new state of the art 2,500 square foot facility will provide independent office space and a purpose built garage for local NAPS officers.
“We are very happy to see this development in our community. It shows that we are capable of taking care of our people and that we can be independent,” said Chief Walter Naveau.
“This new building also demonstrates to our young people that we value having First Nation run organizations and services and it encourages them to pursue careers that are supported in their home community.”
A great sense of pride was easy to see on the faces of those in attendance at the grand opening.
“This development will provide the community with a modern building they can be proud of and constructed under provincial policing standards,” said NAPS Acting Chief Robin Jones.
Shawn Batise, executive director for Wabun Tribal Council, said that although the community needed a building for NAPS officers, the criteria for funding made it necessary to use prefabricated modules.
However with the efforts of Mattagami chief and council and the support of the Wabun Tribal Council a lobby effort resulted in allowing the community to construct the new NAPS building. The funding bodies had doubts that such a project constructed by the community could be produced in time and in budget.
“We have a long history in developing and constructing infrastructure in our Wabun First Nations so we knew we could complete the project in time and under budget,” Batise said.
“We had to lobby to convince government that we could do it. I am happy to report that we actually finished the construction on time and under budget. This development increases community safety, heightens the role of First Nation police officers in the community and provides good role models for our young people.”
Jones said that due to funding constraints NAPS does not have the capital available for building infrastructure. The new NAPS building in Mattagami resulted from an agreement by the community with the federal and provincial governments to fund the project.
In the past NAPS officers were merely housed in offices at the local band administration building in the community.
Often they had to leave the First Nation and travel to OPP detachments in Gogama and Timmins to complete their duties.
With the construction of the new facility the officers will spend more time in the First Nation.
Officers now have a secure location in which to store their equipment and sensitive documents.
The building was constructed with specific requirements by NAPS to provide safety and security for personnel, their equipment and individuals who are being detained.
Emergency systems such as sprinklers are built in and security is maintained by automated systems and cameras. The facility can also accommodate visiting personnel and can be used in times of emergency.
Naveau expressed his thanks to all who attended the grand opening and contributed to the development of the NAPS building.
“This new police services building represents a phenomenal change for our community. It shows that we are asserting ourselves in all areas of development,” Naveau said.
The $1.2 million building was funded 52 per cent by the federal Ministry of Public Safety Canada and 48 per cent by the provincial Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services.
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