Concerned community members initiate school-yard sweep

SIX NATIONS – Michelle Nanticoke found what she believes to be drug paraphernalia on the I.L. Thomas school ground Monday afternoon and quickly initiated a sweep of the fenced in property Tuesday, February 27.

Nanticoke was dropping off her son and three grandsons at the school Monday, February 26 when she saw the items and alerted a nearby teacher.

“What if one of the kids picked it up? What if there’s fentanyl in there,” she said, adding that the teacher told her that there is probably a lot more similar items around the school yard.

The idea of unsafe, drug-related items laying around a school yard where young and curious children are playing bothered and angered Nanticoke; prompting her to reach out on Facebook and organize the cleanup.

A school yard sweep was held on February 27, after school hours and the crew found items like used condoms, hypodermic needles, and more. Photo by Jayson Koblun

“My thing is—what if one of the kids got it and did something … anything, with it? I’ve talked to the police about this before and they don’t do anything about it. I’ve spoken to the media officer, and they don’t do anything about it. I spoke to them around the time the fire station in the area got shot up. Nothing happens.”

Roughly a dozen concerned community members participated in the sweep, including some members of the Men’s Fire, Councillor Sherri-Lyn Hill Pierce and newly elected Councillor Kerri Dean Bomberry. The school’s acting principal helped in the clean up as well but declined to comment until he could speak with the schoolboard’s officials.

“The question really comes down to whose responsibility is this to manage? It’s definitely not just I.L. Thomas’ school ground that has items like these laying around. Does the responsibility lie with Public Works, or INAC? That’s what we need to find out,” said Hill-Pierce, adding that she would bring the issue forward at Tuesday evening’s Six Nations General Council Meeting.

The crew began cleaning up the grounds at 4 p.m. and within the first half hour had found used condoms; beer bottles; small plastic bags with residue in them; a glass pipe; and a hypodermic needle with blood in it.

“Who knows what else is out there,” said Misty Sandy, a concerned community member. “This needle is only three feet away from the parking lot.”

Nanticoke brought along with her a yellow biohazard disposal box because she was very certain she would find items like the pipe, and hypodermic needle. The clean-up crew wore protective gloves and used trash-pickers to keep themselves clear of any danger while cleaning up. Nanticoke said the items in the yellow box will be given to New Directions Group and be properly disposed of.

“It seems almost useless to even go to the police and say anything to them. Nobody even blinks an eye anymore, look what goes on right beside a school, and what ends up on the school property,” said Nanticoke.

Some discussion was had during the sweep about what the next steps to take might look like. Some ideas included—a neighbourhood watch program, a gate, or a security system.

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