RoseAnne Archibald, the Regional Chief of Ontario says she fully supports the Chief and Band Council of M’Chigeeng First Nation on imposing non-essential travel bans throughout the Manitoulin Island community.
Archibald was responding to what she recognizes as rising tensions on the Island since M’Chigeeng erected a barricade across Highway 540 causing travellers to have to go out of their way to reach western points on Manitoulin.

She says there is a serious risk of emotions boiling over or escalating if the issue is not dealt with immediately, so she is also calling on the province to step in.

Archibald says she has reached out to Premier Ford and Indigenous Affairs Minister Greg Rickford to declare non-essential bans not only for checkpoints already set up but also leading onto Manitoulin Island.

She adds the province has to acknowledge many highways and roads, skirts or lead through First Nations communities.

As reported yesterday the work continues on establishing a committee made up of Indigenous and non-indigenous community leaders to deal with COVID-19 protocols.
Archibald says she is in full support of that approach to deal with the issues, especially with Mother’s Day and the May long weekend being just around the corner.

The Chiefs of Ontario Indians represents all 133 First Nations across Ontario.

“I support the approach of the UCCM in asking for an Indigenous and non-Indigenous committee of Manitoulin Island leadership to deal with tensions and non-essential travel bans for the

Island. It’s important to note that non-essential travel bans slow the movement of the virus into all communities. It’s saving lives for everyone and that’s what we need to collectively focus on as we move through the pandemic together.”

With Mother’s Day and the Victoria Day long weekend approaching, time is of the essence to institute non-essential travel bans in strategic locations to stop the flow of outside visitors and the spread of COVID-19.

“I applaud the efforts of First Nations leaders and volunteers who have been working tirelessly to keep their communities safe and stop the spread of COVID-19. The costs that communities continue to endure, both in people and resources, is another burden that would be best utilized elsewhere if people would heed the calls of the Premier and stop non-essential travel, especially to the north to cottages and cabins. “We have to work together to defend against this invisible and invasive agent to protect the integrity of the local hospitals, front line workers and the health and well-being of First Nations and all people. Many of these areas could easily be overwhelmed by an influx of COVID-19. Our leaders’ concerns must be taken seriously, we need to trust the ones who are on the ground in those regions as it’s their lives that are at stake,” concludes Archibald.