Misinformation is dangerous as it undermines our democratic institutions and weakens our community by leading to mistrust. Misinformation leads to miscommunication. There appears to be misinformation being spread about our laws, our authority as leaders during this pandemic, our working relationship with the RCMP, and searches at the post office.
Our Othasowewin (Constitution) and our Aski-Pumenikiwin (Land Code) were both passed by our Citizens in 2017 through secret ballot votes. Both documents authorize us to pass our own laws. As noted in Othasowewin, we are Nisichawayasi Asiniskaw Nehethowuk and we have exercised Tipethimisowin (sovereignty) within N’tuskenan (our sacred lands) entrusted to us by Kehchi Manitou (the Great Spirit) from Michimahch’ohci (time immemorial). We have never been lawless peoples. Our customary laws, passed down from our ancestors and incorporated into Othasowewin, require all of us to act responsibly.

In addition to approving Othasowewin, our Citizens also authorized us to enter into self-government discussions. One of the purposes of such discussions is Kwayaskonikiwin (reconciliation) of NCN’s pre-existing Tipethimisowin (sovereignty) with the Crown’s asserted sovereignty.

The past ten months have demonstrated just how important it is to govern ourselves. An independent review of police services in Manitoba noted many communities have had to rely on their own internal resources to enforce travel and other pandemic-related restrictions. Our FNSOs and our other staff have worked very hard to keep our community safe. To date, only one person living in our community has gotten sick from COVID-19 and we were able to contain the virus.

We know everyone is fed up with the restrictions. Our community is not alone as restrictions have been imposed by all governments in Canada and around the world.
Unfortunately, in emergency situations everyone’s individual rights are impacted. Freedoms are restricted. Children can’t go to school. We can’t travel outside the community. We can’t visit with family and friends. We can’t hug people or shake hands. The mental distress and fatigue is real and it is wearing everyone out. But, we need to remember that even before COVID, our community had some of the most violent crimes per capita of any community in this country. Public safety was one of the major issues our Citizens told Chief and Council to address. Drugs, bootlegging and gangs cause violence and have no place in our community.

The restrictions in our laws have led some people to argue that our laws are invalid. THIS IS NOT TRUE. This is MISINFORMATION. IT IS WRONG. Our Community Protection Law and our Emergency Measures Law remain in effect. The Orders in Council we approve and the rules we have established during the pandemic are done in accordance with our authority under our laws. The purpose remains community health and safety. Our laws and the legitimate actions taken under our laws are not contrary to the Criminal Code of Canada as some people have been saying.

There also continues to be misinformation circulating about searches of the mail and this misinformation has been provided to Canada Post and to the RCMP. We addressed the issue of mail searches in a Radio/Social Media message on November 25, 2020. To be clear, the FNSOs do not search the mail truck or the post office. The FNSOs continue to operate the checkstop and conduct legitimate searches where necessary at various locations in and around the community. They work collaboratively with the RCMP as required.

Appropriate searches are necessary to prevent violence, bootlegging, drug trafficking and other violations of our laws. As we have indicated many times individual rights are not unlimited, particularly where the goal is to prevent violence or the spread of a deadly virus. Lives are at stake and we will continue to take action to keep our community as safe as possible. We remind everyone not to listen to false information as it causes unnecessary stress during an already stressful time.