Perry Bellegarde Assembly of First Nations policing

Outgoing AFN national chief Perry Bellegarde

Policing in First Nations, Inuit communities will soon be an essential service

Communities have been calling for more police and more funding as well as institutional reform.

Federal Public Safety Minister Bill Blair announced on Tuesday that the Assembly of First Nations will receive up to $1.5-million to develop legislation for First Nations policing with the federal government. In an address to the AFN, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau added that this legislation would ensure that First Nations policing is considered an essential service, something Indigenous communities have been calling for.

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According to a CBC report, funding for police services in First Nations and Inuit communities is currently split between Public Safety Canada and the provinces and territories through the First Nations Policing Program. The program, which was created in 1991 to improve policing on reserves and on Inuit areas, serves roughly 60 per cent of First Nations and Inuit communities. The program has been criticized for being underfunded and providing spotty service.

Perry Bellegarde gave his final speech as AFN national chief during Tuesday’s winter assembly, using the occasion to discuss policing and call for RCMP reform. This comes in the wake of the killing of Indigenous Canadians Chantel Moore and Rodney Levi in New Brunswick, by local police and RCMP, respectively. ■

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