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Matawa First Nations report threats to homeless people in the Parkdale area

Thunder Bay Police have cautioned one person and are still investigating another incident.
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THUNDER BAY — Matawa First Nations management says it's concerned about what it perceives to be increasing mistreatment of homeless people in Thunder Bay by members of the public.

In a statement Wednesday, it said it's now aware of three separate incidents involving direct threats or harassment.

The most recent occurred on Sunday and Monday this week.

Matawa said it first received a threatening email and a threatening phone message from a man whom it presumes is a resident of the Parkdale area.

In the email, a derogatory reference was made to conditions in First Nations reserves.

The writer said unless Matawa arranges to "clean up" behind the retail area on the north side of Arthur Street near Porcupine Boulevard, "residents of Parkdale will be doing it and making sure it never happens again."

He added "If it comes down to this, I can absolutely assure Matawa and any other agency that there will be no more panhandling, no more garbage, and no more crime in this area."

In a voicemail message the next day, a caller who identified himself as the writer of the email said "People that are paying $10,000 a month for the entire year in taxes don't want all the garbage in their back yards, or people looking through their cars or lurking in their yards."

Matawa reported both incidents to Thunder Bay police.

A TBPS spokesperson told TBNewswatch that members of the police community inclusion team identified the person who contacted Matawa, and have cautioned him.

According to Matawa, there was another incident at 2:30 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 16 in the Parkdale neighbourhood, "when a group of individuals engaged in behaviours to harass and intimidate homeless people."

The police spokesperson said they are working to identify victims and witnesses so they can begin a formal investigation.

Earlier this month, Thunder Bay police charged a man with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle after a pickup truck was driven over a tent used by homeless people at County Fair Mall.

Matawa First Nations Management CEO David Paul Achnneepineskum said targeting homeless people in their encampments, and targeting Matawa employees in the homelessness servicing sector, is neither compassionate nor helpful.

"What is helpful is asking local service providers how they can help, not disagreeing with initiatives that work to address homelessness like the proposed transitional housing project on Junot Avenue," Achneepineskum added.

He said homelessness is a long-term and complex problem in almost every Canadian city, and an issue that requires the compassionate involvement of everyone.

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