New Mi’kmaq alert system not a result of manhunt

CAPE BRETON: Representatives with the Union of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq activated their own framework to an alert system on Sept. 1.

Jennifer Jesty, the union’s emergency management coordinator, advised it will permit chiefs and band councillors in each of the five Cape Breton Fist Nation communities; We’koqma’q, Potlotek, Eskasoni, Membertou, and Wagmatcook, to provide alerts to residents and band members.

Jesty said the system has been in progress for a considerable length of time and isn’t a reaction to the recent week-long manhunt for a 47-year-old man charged with abducting a teenage Mi’kmaq girl.

“Absolutely not – and I want that to be made perfectly clear that, no, this has been in the works for several months now,” she said. “There’s nothing more important than communication during any event, so I decided we need to find a way to be able to communicate to all of our community members when there’s an event going on.”

Jesty advised alerts can be issued to only one community, or given across all of Cape Breton Island.

She indicated the cautions aren’t only for crises; while they can be utilized for something as genuine as a missing individual, they can be additionally used to pass on significant community-specific information.

“It’s not always throughout the entire island or affecting all five communities – sometimes there’s just a boil water order in one community,” she said. “That’s pretty important information for community members to know, and not everybody has social media.”

Jesty explained individuals from the communities can download and receive alerts through an application, or they could sign up to get the same alerts by telephone, email or text – and the chiefs can record messages in both English and Mi’kmaq.