THUNDER BAY – National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo today expressed concerns and strong opposition to a projected 19% cutback for First Nations policing in this year’s federal budget. “We do not believe this is in the best interest of our citizens and this is quite troubling for our communities,” stated the National Chief.
National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo stated, “The proposed cuts to First Nations policing are of tremendous concern to our people and to anyone who cares about the safety and security of our citizens in our communities. First Nation communities are already struggling under a minimum budget for public security. This decision is being taken without any consultation with First Nations and the Government of Canada clearly does not understand the tremendous impact it will have on the essential safety and security of our people. The cuts are especially surprising given the government’s purported ‘law and order’ agenda.”
The National Chief is “Seeking an immediate meeting with the federal Minister of Public Safety, and senior officials to resolve the issue, noting that the First Nations Chiefs of Police Association have expressed concerns as well. There has been no communication with First Nations leadership by the federal Community Safety and Partnerships Branch regarding funding cutbacks, and the Minister and the Branch have a responsibility to advise First Nations because this affects their legal obligations to their officers and will impact policing budgets across the country”.
“First Nations people are already some of the most vulnerable people in Canada, exposed to higher incidences of crime and violence than other Canadians,” said Atleo. “We should all be working to support and promote First Nations policing as an essential service in protecting our people and communities.”
A recent federal government review of the First Nations Policing Program clearly indicated the need for an expansion of the services and that policing needs are greater now than there were when First Nations Policing was created. The report indicates the First Nations population has grown significantly and the social and safety issues are more significant today, necessitating more support.
Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and the First Nations Chiefs of Police Association (FNCPA) signed a Protocol Agreement on December 11, 2007. The AFN supports First Nations Policing through the FNCPA and fully supports their ability to meet the demands and requirements placed on them.
National Chief Atleo has written to Public Safety Minister Vic Toews seeking an urgent meeting to address this situation and possible negative ramifications in First Nation communities.