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MP Rachel Blaney calls for improved policing in Indigenous communities

Auditor General found $13 million went unspent last year for policing in Indigenous communities
Campbell River RCMP. Photo by Marc Kitteringham/Campbell River Mirror

North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney is calling for improvements to the First Nations and Inuit Policing Program, after concerns were raised by the Auditor General earlier this week.

The goal of the program is to provide Indigenous communities with a dedicated RCMP officer and services tailored to fit their needs. However, according to the March 19 report by Auditor General Karen Hogan, Public Safety Canada “did not work in partnership with First Nations and Inuit communities to provide equitable access to policing services that were tailored to their needs.

“For its part, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) did not work in partnership with First Nations and Inuit communities to deliver dedicated and tailored policing services that supplemented those provided under agreements with their respective province or territory,” the report continues.

According to the report, $13 million allocated for 2022-23 went unspent, and in a sample of 26 communities only 10 were served by RCMP detachments able to have officers be 100 per cent dedicated to the community.

“The audit also found that because of staffing shortages, the RCMP had been unable to fully staff the positions for which it receives funding under the program’s agreements over the past five years, leaving First Nations and Inuit communities underserved,” a press release says.

Blaney was joined by NDP Indigenous Services critic Lori Idlout from Nunavut in saying that the program “urgently needs to be fixed.”

“Local First Nations want to know that the federal government is working to remedy years of mistreatment and harm done at the hands of police services and the government itself,” said Blaney. “So, it’s alarming to see that the First Nations and Inuit Policing Program has utterly failed - especially after the government put $500 million towards the program. Small communities, like ours, deserve equity in policing, no one should have to wait hours for help. I’d like to know where all this money went since the AG found that barely any improvements have been made to First Nations and Inuit policing, and with small communities falling behind.”

The report also found that only 38 per cent of communities had a dedicated police officer.

“The RCMP has enforced colonial and genocidal policies to oppress Indigenous peoples for decades,” said Idlout. “There is deep-seeded trauma and a distrust of the police in Indigenous communities. It is appalling that the First Nations and Inuit Policing Program did not involve culturally specific training to understand the culture of the community officers are serving. To work toward reconciliation, we need more of an effort to hire Indigenous law enforcement or to incorporate Indigenous laws. These omissions perpetuate the systemic racism and over-representation in the justice system.”

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Marc Kitteringham

About the Author: Marc Kitteringham

I joined Campbell River Mirror in early 2020, writing about the environment, housing, local government and more.
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