(Halifax, Nova Scotia) – First Nations-In-Assembly have voiced their unwavering support for Indigenous Police Chiefs of Ontario (IPCO) and the push for First Nations Policing to be declared an essential service across Canada.
Indigenous Police Chiefs of Ontario filed a Federal Court Motion earlier this year. On June 30, Justice Denis Gascon ordered Public Safety Canada (PSC) to immediately flow funds to Treaty #3 Police Services (T3PS), UCCM Anishinaabe Police Service, and the Anishinabek Police Service (APS) for a 12-month period. Their funding agreement with PSC expired on March 31, 2023, jeopardizing safety and security of 45 First Nations communities and approximately 30,000 individuals.
Justice Gascon stated that the case raises concerns about the conduct of PSC in its dealings with these Police Services and its failure to be guided by the overarching principles of reconciliation and the honour of the Crown. While the AFN welcomes the news that Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino has decided not to appeal Justice Gascon’s ruling, it will continue to advocate for the permanent removal of all discriminatory terms and conditions for all First Nations receiving funding under the First Nations and Inuit Policing Program (FNIPP).
At the Annual General Assembly (AGA) of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Emergency Resolution #03 was passed. This resolution calls upon the federal government to take immediate steps to create a plan for negotiating revised Terms and Conditions with all First Nations which receive funding under the FNIPP, ensuring that funding fulfils the guarantee of equitable policing set out in the 1996 policy.
Furthermore, Draft Resolution #34, which was also approved by First-Nations-In-Assembly, directs. the AFN to call upon the Government of Canada to recognize and uphold First Nations inherent, Treaty and constitutional rights in accordance with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). It also directs the AFN to re-engage with PSC and co-develop policing legislation on conditions. These conditions include Minister Mendicino meeting with the AFN Policing Taskforce as soon as possible, for the Minister to commit to appointing a representative to engage with AFN who has experience engaging with First Nations as well as an understanding of First Nations rights and policing, and for the representative to act as an intermediary between the Minister and PSC officials.
On July 12, 2023, Quebec-Labrador Regional Chief Ghislain Picard, BC Regional Chief Terry Teegee, AFN First Nations Policing Task Force Member M’Chigeeng First Nation Ogimaa Kwe Linda Debassige, and Aundeck Omni Kaming Chief Patsy Corbiere held a press conference to provide an update on the challenges of negotiating with PSC. “We call upon the federal government and PSC to stop its disrespectful, colonial tactics that undermine the rights, jurisdiction and sovereignty of First Nations,” said Regional Chief Teegee. “The government must immediately fund all First Nations Police Services in an equitable manner.”
Regional Chief Picard pointed highlighted the discrepancy in funding compared to other services, stating, “You would not see the RCMP treated this way. You would not see the OPP or other provincial forces funded on a short-term basis leaving staff in turmoil. First Nations Police Services deserve the same treatment as these forces. They need secure, long-term funding and to be treated with respect.”
The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is a national advocacy organization that works to advance the collective aspirations of First Nations individuals and communities across Canada on matters of national or international nature and concern. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.
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