Want to make First Nations policing an essential service? Fund it, lawyer says – National

First Nations Chiefs of Police Association chief says he hopes federal legislation in the works to make Indigenous policing an essential service will be accompanied by adequate funding to ensure these forces can attract enough agents.

“It really impacts recruitment and retention of employees when the chief of police can’t categorically offer someone a full career in policing,” said Lennard Busch, former chief of police and member of the First Kahkewistahaw Nation in Saskatchewan.

« So why wouldn’t they look elsewhere where they could be with a bigger police department, where their longevity is almost certain? »

Read more:

Why don’t more aboriginal communities have a locally administered police service?

Busch’s association and the Assembly of First Nations worked with Public Safety Canada to draft the legislation, which is expected to be introduced in the new year.

The story continues under the ad

Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said in an interview with The Canadian Press earlier this month that Indigenous communities deserve “the same quality of policing” as others.

“We must ground our work in a relationship based on trust, respect and recognition of the inherent right of Indigenous peoples to self-determination in matters of public faith,” Mendicino said.

The legislation took years to come up with, but its necessity was made clear after a massive attack on the Cree Nation by James Smith, Busch said.

The September 4 stabbings left 11 dead and 18 injured in the First Nation, as well as in the nearby village of Weldon, northeast of Saskatoon.

James Smith Cree Nation Chief Wally Burns has since pushed the federal government to help fund a police department in his community.

Click to play the video:

Winnipeg Police pledge to work with First Nations groups to search for landfills

The First Nation currently relies on the RCMP, with the closest detachment nearly 50 kilometers away.

The story continues under the ad

The RCMP continues to patrol the community, and the First Nation has taken the initiative to install security cameras and have members monitor the area.

After the stabbings, Mendicino said the bill would be ready for the fall, but then delayed it.

“The consultation process demanded by Indigenous peoples takes time,” Busch said.

In Canada, there are 36 First Nations or Inuit police services that are self-administered.

Most of them are in Quebec and Ontario, including one in Saskatchewan — the File Hills First Nations Police Service, of which Busch was the police chief until his retirement in 2021.

These self-administered police services are funded through the First Nations and Inuit Policing Program, which was established in 1991 to enable the federal government to meet its treaty obligations to maintain peace. Order and Law Enforcement.

Read more:

Federal government aims to introduce First Nations policing bill this fall after Saskatchewan stabbings

In February, Public Safety Canada released a report evaluating the program.

He found that the program is chronically underfunded by federal and provincial governments, hampering the ability of First Nations to develop and implement their own self-determined police services.

The story continues under the ad

This has led to the disbandment of one-third of First Nations self-administered police services since the program began in 1991, Busch said.

“If you have five or six members, and one retires, one resigns and one falls ill, then you are very likely not to be able to provide services,” he said. « Recruiting people also doesn’t happen overnight. »

The Public Safety Canada report indicates that Ottawa’s current funding model is outdated and insufficient to meet the public safety needs of First Nations.

Data from the department’s program shows that from 2004 to 2018, these communities experienced a 3.5% increase in crime, while there was a 28.5% decrease in the other communities.

Click to play the video:

First Nations leaders call for resignation of Winnipeg police chief amid landfill controversy

Over the same period, violent crime rates in communities with these policing agreements increased by almost 32%, while in the rest of Canada there was a decrease of almost 16%. %.

The story continues under the ad

With Indigenous peoples also overrepresented in the Canadian criminal justice system, federal government support for First Nations and Inuit policing should be maintained and strengthened, Public Safety Canada said in its assessment.

Busch said it’s important that officers be recruited from the community or the same cultural group being served.

« It allows you to build those relationships and address some of the critical issues, social issues, and crime issues in their communities in a more meaningful and ongoing way. »

&copy 2022 The Canadian Press


Back to top button