First Nations policing symposium explores how justice can reflect culture and realities
- NC Raine | November 07, 2019
A national symposium on the ever-evolving issue of First Nations policing and justice is taking place over two days in Saskatoon.
Hosted for the first time by the Prince Albert Grand Council (PAGC), the symposium aims to create solution-based conversations on First Nations policing practices and how the justice system can be transformed to reflect culture and realities from Saskatchewan First Nations.
“First Nations in northern Saskatchewan experience extensive conflict with the law and the criminal justice system. There are similar challenges across Canada. We have a lot of work to do,” said PAGC Grand Chief Brian Hardlotte.
“We need to think from a strength-based perspective and the beauty of our cultures, languages, worldview, and value systems. We have so much to teach Canada in repairing the system,” he said.
Some of the policing and justice challenges addressed at the symposium will be the high incarceration rates of First Nations people in provincial and federal jails, the need to focus on missing and murdered Indigenous women, as well as support for more Indigenous-based professional development, traditional land-based healing, and education initiatives.
“These new RCMP recruits that come in to our communities need to have a curriculum in place – not by the RCMP but by our communities – who know our culture and values. All nations need to come together and teach the RCMP to work with us,” said PAGC Vice-Chief Christopher Jobb.
The PAGC is currently in discussions to establish a northern-based First Nations police force in order to decrease victimization, crime, and incarceration rates.
“We need to start spreading hope. Too many times we condemn,” said Jobb. “When you look at the system, we have a broken system. But we need to work collectively as First Nations and governments.”
Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Chief Bobby Cameron spoke about how justice has and continues to be tied to treaty. From the early 1800's to present day, treaty has been broken, he said.
“What we need is First Nations involvement. You have to have our people at the table to help you, to guide you. For the RCMP, we have to enforce First Nations bylaws. They have to listen to our chiefs and councils, who know where the drug dealers are, who know who's selling alcohol illegally,” he said.
In order to 'crack down' on alcohol and drugs, Cameron said he is an advocate for a tribal police service.
“It's going to cost billions of dollars to help our First Nations with tribal police. Funding, we need a massive investment of funding,” said Cameron. “Funding to help the RCMP, to help the city police. We can all be one well-oiled machine to help keep peace and order. To help save lives.”
The policing and justice symposium will end on Thursday, November 7, 2019 at the Saskatoon Inn.