Media Release: Police Leaders / Indigenous Representatives Seek Common Ground on Solutions For Safer Communities

    06/01/16 - 06/01/17

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    Winnipeg, Manitoba – Over the past two days, approximately 180 delegates from across Canada gathered in Winnipeg in a conference aimed at developing solutions and opening new forms of dialogue around issues that affect the community safety and well-being of Canada’s Indigenous peoples.

    “Until root causes of violence are properly addressed (poverty, poor housing, disadvantage, etc.), Indigenous people will continue to be vulnerable and disproportionately represented in Canada’s justice system. Overall, we cannot lose focus on that,” stated Chief Clive Weighill, President of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police. “Getting tough on crime won’t fix the challenges before us. We need to get tough on poverty, homelessness, racism and disadvantage.”

    Chief Weighill added: “Assembly of First Nations Chief Perry Bellegarde called on the need to reflect, re-visit attitudes and make space in your minds, hearts and spirit for Indigenous peoples. That is exactly what we are doing within this conference and we will ensure that policing throughout Canada adopts this call.”

    AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde added: “We need to better work together to rebuild a fractured relationship and rebuild the trust that is so badly needed to make positive change, achieve reconciliation and close the gap.”

    The goals of the conference were to:

    • achieve a more collective understanding of the historical, recent and current circumstances that continue to place a disproportionate number of Canada’s Indigenous peoples amid multiple and composite risk factors that severely jeopardize individual, family and community safety and well-being.

    • create a renewed atmosphere of cooperation, collaboration and mutual respect between and among Canada’s Indigenous Peoples, police, policy-makers, and the public services system.

    • identify and accelerate the mobilization of collective, evidence-informed strategies to reduce risk, increase protective factors, and restore social equity for Indigenous People in the context of the diverse communities and environments in which they live.

    Information was consolidated and emergent themes developed to produce a groundwork for next steps in achieving a consistent, nation-wide approach for strengthening police relations and the lives of Indigenous peoples. This resulted in the following calls to action:

    • the CACP is encouraging social and justice stakeholders, federal and provincial governments, Indigenous leaders and peoples to continue a call for immediate action prior to recommendations of a Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls inquiry.

    • that governments immediately focus on efforts to improve the quality of lives of Indigenous peoples, through investment in basic needs: housing, education, health and social services, in order to ensure healthier communities and reduce victimization.

    • Alternate approaches are required to reduce the disproportionate representation of Indigenous peoples within the criminal justice system. An active dialogue is required between all stakeholders to address this issue.

    • Indigenous people in First Nations communities deserve the same quality of policing as people living in municipalities. The First Nations Policing Program (FNPP) requires a complete renewal to ensure adequate and consistent funding and no longer be considered a “program” but rather reflective of the essential services that First Nation policing provides.

    • Police services need to support and encourage the increase of knowledge and involvement related to traditional, spiritual and cultural teachings. They need to continually promote inclusiveness. Elder Annie Johnston had the following simple message: “Keep us safe, respect our culture and values.” This must be the goal of all police services throughout Canada.

    • Build programming infrastructure around the Youth Criminal Justice Act to provide addictions assistance, programming and interventions to prevent youth from getting deeper involved in the criminal justice system.

    • The fundamentals of policing need to be enhanced: the development of relationships, especially with Indigenous youth, is essential to us working together to find solutions. It is about learning, listening, connecting, commitment and empowerment.

    • Police and Indigenous leaders must continue working with other justice partners to advance culturally responsive, restorative and community justice solutions.

    The full conference agenda and list of speakers can be found at: www.CACP.ca

    For further information, please contact:

    Timothy M. Smith

    Government Relations and Strategic Communications

    Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police Mobile: 613-601-0692 E: timsmith2000@rogers.com

    The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police was established in 1905 and represents approximately 1,000 police leaders from across Canada. The Association is dedicated to the support and promotion of efficient law enforcement and to the protection and security of the people of Canada. Through its member police chiefs and other senior police executives, the CACP represents in excess of 90% of the police community in Canada which include federal, First Nations, provincial, regional and municipal, transportation and military police leaders.