First Nations Want Tribal Policing after Stabbings

By Jeanelle Mandes Global News

Posted September 13, 2022 6:41 pm

Updated September 14, 2022 10:40 am


Chief Wally Burns of the James Smith Cree Nation, Saskatchewan, Canada (Source: Reuters - "Canada: Indigenous leader calls for support after stabbing spree")


Following one of the worst mass killings in Canadian history, Saskatchewan leaders continue to voice the need to implement First Nations policing on-reserves in Saskatchewan.


The Chief of the James Smith Cree Nation (JSCN) said in a press release on September 8, 2022 this is needed for his community so a tragedy like this does not happen again to anyone.


“We ask three things, three things from the government,” said Chief Wally Burns. “We ask that we have our own tribal policing, we ask for awareness and addictions, we ask for treatment centers so things won’t happen like this to any nations around the world.”


The Chief of Poundmaker Cree Nation echoes the same need for his community saying drugs like crystal meth is pushing the leadership to fight for their own tribal policing. Chief Duane Antoine met with Assistant Commissioner Rhonda Blackmore this past spring to talk about implementing band council resolutions (BCR) but says not enough is being done to address this issue.


READ MORE: Poundmaker Cree Nation taking next steps to set up independent police force


“We told them, you guys have to honour our BCRs — band council resolutions — or something is going to happen. Sure enough, look what happened last week,” he said. “It’s tough to see a community going through that right now. And that’s what I was trying to prevent here in Poundmaker.”


BCRs are decisions and resolutions that are voted in favor of chief and council. Poundmaker implemented BCRs in the past to kick band members out of the community after declaring a state of emergency last year. Chief Antoine said RCMP members aren’t enforcing the BCRs due to the issue of human rights.


“That throws a big wrench on what we’re trying to pursue here,” he said. “The solution right now is we have to go back to the justice minister as well as (Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations) Marc Miller, to try and help us out to resolve this.”


When RCMP are not able to act on implementing BCRs, it does not address the need to make the community safer from drugs and violence which is why he is pushing the governments on all levels to implement First Nations policing.


READ MORE: Canada’s work on First Nations policing law should have begun ‘long time ago:’ Bellegarde


Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said in an interview with News Talk 650, the provincial government wants to have those conversations with Indigenous communities and the federal government on addressing these key issues.


“There is an ask for Indigenous policing, File Hills being the example to where we would look as it has been largely successful,” said Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe in an interview with CKOM. “As well, (there have been calls for) some additional funding and awareness around addictions and addiction centers in the province.”


Saskatchewan only has one running First Nations policing service located in Treaty 4. The File Hills First Nations Policing Service was incorporated in 2002 that serves five communities located in the Treaty Four Tribal Territory which are Okanese First Nation, Peepeekisis First Nation, Carry the Kettle First Nation, Star Blanket First Nation and Little Black Bear.


Daniel Bellegarde, who is the Chair of the File Hills First Nations Board of Police Commissioners, said their initiative is successful because it’s community-based policing in the true sense.


“The protective service is much closer to the people. People have trust in the police service and see it as their own,” said Bellegarde. “The police service itself is professional. It’s culturally competent and is respectful of community priorities. I think most of all it’s embedded in the community so that the presence is there at all times.


The File Hills First Nations Police Service has a joint funding agreement between the Public Safety Canada and the Saskatchewan Justice where they cost share a budget of $2.3 million.


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