A group of Grassy Narrows First Nation community members joined together on Wednesday afternoon (April 27, 2022) to protest and demand the removal of the community's check stop.
In an interview with Q104 and KenoraOnline, a community member, who wished to remain anonymous, says workers at the community check stop are performing involuntary searches of residents' vehicles that are entering back into the First Nation.
“It’s invading our privacy,” said the anonymous resident. “They want to search your whole vehicle, and then on top of that, they’re opening your doors, they’re searching through all of your private possessions that you just bought, [such as] your groceries. This has been an ongoing situation."
On April 29, 2021, the First Nation implemented a new law, Alcohol Inagonigaawin, to control the amount of alcohol coming into the community, with enforcement from the Treaty Three Police Service. The law establishes fines for people who bring ‘excessive’ quantities of alcohol into the community, and those who go against the law are to be brought before a community justice panel.
“People are still finding ways to bring in their alcohol. To me, it seems like it has gotten worse ever since they put that checkpoint up," adds the anonymous community member.
They note that if a vehicle search is denied by the driver, then the check stop employees will not allow the resident back into the community. They stress that to their knowledge, these searches are not conducted by members of the OPP or the Treaty Three Police Service.
“This is our home, we have kids that were left at home, and the checkpoint workers are still not agreeing to let us through. This has been causing chaos in our community.”
Grassy Narrows, like most First Nation communities in the region, implemented a COVID-19 checkpoint to protect residents from the virus, and to help keep non-essential and non-emergency workers out of the community.
“At first it was just for the COVID, we understand that. The COVID cases have dropped significantly. This checkpoint is just invading our privacy," the member finishes.
The member stated that a number of community members have reached out to the Chief and Council to voice their concerns about the checkpoint, but they say they have received little to no response.
KenoraOnline has reached out to the Grassy Narrows First Nation leadership for more information. A comment was not received by the time of publishing.
Another demonstration will be performed on Thursday afternoon (April 28, 2022) at 4:00 p.m., at the Grassy Narrows First Nation checkpoint.