WENDAKE, QC, Dec. 1, 2015 /CNW Telbec/ - On November 23, 2015, the Innu Council of Mashteuiatsh, Pekuakamiulnuatsh Takuhikan, announced in a press release that, faced with chronic underfunding of First Nations polices forces by the federal and provincial governments and against its wishes, it was left with no choice but to end the operations of its police force starting March 31, 2016.
In response to the difficult decision that the Council of Mashteuiatsh had to make, acting provincial Public Security Minister Pierre Moreau called for an urgent meeting with the Mashteuiatsh authorities and the Minister of Public Safety Canada to find a solution to this "special case."
"I must remind the Minister that the situation in Mashteuiatsh certainly involves particular aspects, but that it is another unfortunate consequence of serious, persistent neglect by the federal and provincial governments to support First Nations police forces. In recent years, at least half a dozen of our First Nations governments have had to close down their local police force operations, due to lack of adequate funding and respectful collaboration on the part of the federal and provincial governments. Why is this so after more than thirty years of developing professional, qualified police forces in our First Nations communities? Why?", stated Ghislain Picard, Chief of the AFNQL, with much indignation.
In recent years, the AFNQL has officially requested a meeting with the federal and provincial Public Security/Safety Ministers and AFNQL Chiefs on several occasions yet without success.
"Why should our properly trained police officers settle for less-than-adequate working conditions, when those women and men play a vital role in our communities?" asked Chief Picard. Why do the two other federal and provincial jurisdictions refuse to acknowledge our distinct jurisdiction in ensuring the public safety of our peoples, regardless of their place of residence? What will the consequences be in our communities when the local police forces, whose members mostly speak our languages and know our cultures, have to close down and be replaced with the SQ police force?
Each First Nations community is faced with specific circumstances. But above all, there has been serious, general neglect by the federal and provincial governments with alarming consequences. Today, I would like to remind Minister Moreau and his federal counterpart of this fact.
The Chiefs of the AFNQL are demanding that the Ministers become personally and immediately involved in this serious issue. Together, we must quickly find permanent solutions to support First Nations police forces. The safety of our peoples, our women and young girls, our children and elders is at stake", concluded Chief Ghislain Picard.
The Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador is the regional organization bringing together the 43 First Nations Chiefs of Quebec and Labrador. www.apnql-afnql.com.
SOURCE Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador
For further information: Mélanie Vincent: [email protected], Cell.: 418-580-4442