Federal Court Grants Interim Relief to Ontario’s Indigenous Police Services

Treaty Three Police
Older Treaty 3 Police unit

THUNDER BAY – News – On Friday, June 30th, 2023, the Federal Court has partially granted an emergency motion for interim relief, filed by the Indigenous Police Chiefs of Ontario (IPCO) on behalf of three Indigenous Police Services: Anishinabek Police Service (APS), Treaty Three Police Service (T3PS), and UCCM Anishnaabe Police (UCCM).

The court order, issued by the Honourable Justice Denis Gascon on June 14, 2023, provides the police services with relief from compliance with certain discriminatory clauses outlined in section 6 of the First Nation Inuit Policing Program (FNIPP) terms and conditions.

Justice Gascon ruled that the three police services are no longer required to comply with clauses in the FNIPP terms that prohibited funding for police infrastructure and legal representation for Indigenous police services.

Earlier this week, federal Public Safety Minister Mendicino had already withdrawn a clause that prevented the provision of specialized policing services, such as canine units and homicide investigation teams, in a last-minute amendment to the FNIPP terms and conditions.

Moreover, the court ordered the immediate release of funds to APS, T3PS, and UCCM, whose funding agreements had expired on March 31, 2023, after they declined to accept the discriminatory terms proposed by the Canadian government.

Justice Gascon harshly criticized Public Safety Canada for failing to act honourably and in the spirit of reconciliation with the three Indigenous police services. He noted that Canada had insisted on the impossibility of negotiating the terms and conditions, disregarding its duty to maintain the honour of the Crown in all matters involving First Nations.

In addition, Justice Gascon expressed concern about Canada’s characterization of the terms and conditions as “constraints” on the federal government’s ability to work with Indigenous peoples. He highlighted that such terms are not constraints but choices, as evidenced by the unilateral removal of the prohibition on funding for specialized police services.

Kai Liu, IPCO President and T3PS Chief of Police, lauded the court’s decision, stating it not only saved the services from potential closure but also acknowledged Canada’s dishonourable conduct. Julian Falconer, counsel for IPCO, called the decision a complete vindication of the leaders’ principled approach to ensuring the safety and security of their communities.

Traditional protocols were observed throughout the legal process. A sacred fire was lit at APS detachment when the federal court hearing began, and a sacred ceremony took place in Treaty #3 Territory where Ogichidaa (Grand Chief) Francis Kavanaugh presided over documents that were later submitted to the federal government as part of the proceedings.

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