Justice (25-42): Current Problems

Systemic Racism in Policing


September 29, 2020


QC

AFN-QL Action Plan on Racism

AFNQL released its “Action Plan on Racism and Discrimination: Engaging with First Nations Against Racism and Discrimination” identifies 39 Recommendations and 141 specific actions that the following groups can undertake to advance reconciliation across all aspects of life in Quebec:

  • Individual citizens 1 20
  • Organizations and Groups 8 18
  • Media 2 9
  • Education 4 15
  • Municipalities 12 35
  • Police Services, Justice 11 30
  • Business, the Economy 1 14

https://apnql.com/en/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/ACTION-PLAN-ON-RACISM-AND-DISCRIMINATION_ENG.pdf

GroupsRecommendationsActions
Individual citizens120
Organizations and groups818
Media29
Education415
Municipalities1235
Police Services.Justice1130
Business, the Economy114

August 12, 2020


QC

AFN-QL Action Plan on Racism

The Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL) – announces that it is developing its own action plan to address discrimination and racism. The action group against racism created by the Legault government is composed solely of members of the party in power and has little credibility in the eyes of First Nations leaders. Premier Legault has publicly stated that he does not believe in “systemic racism”.

The AFNQL recalls that the issue has been the subject of many consultations over the past few years and that several avenues for solutions have been presented:

  • Public Inquiry Commission on relations between Indigenous Peoples and certain public services in Québec (Viens Commission), whose report was made public on September 30, 2019.
    National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG, 2019)
  • the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC, 2015)
  • the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007).

The AFNQL will make its action plan public by the end of September, 2020.

Among non-Indigenous Quebecers who have an opinion of First Nations in Quebec, this opinion is good in eight out of ten cases (81%). The Léger survey results from August 2020:

  • Admit that they have little or no knowledge of the issues and realities of First Nations in Quebec (58%).
  • Consider that the relations that non-Indigenous Quebecers have with First Nations in Quebec are poor (53%).
  • Almost all non-Indigenous Quebecers (92%) think that First Nations are subject to racism or discrimination in Quebec.
  • 80% of respondents consider that First Nations people face additional obstacles in the different facets of their lives.
  • 70% of those who have an opinion are of the opinion that, currently in Quebec, First Nations are not treated on the same footing as non-Indigenous Quebecers in social structures.
  • 91% of respondents believe that the Quebec government has an important role to play in achieving and maintaining equality between First Nations and non-Indigenous Quebecers.

November 24, 2021


BC

BC Human Rights Commission Report on Police Reform

BC Human Rights Commission – Released written submission, “Equity is Safer: Human rights considerations for policing reform in British Columbia,” to the Special Committee on Reforming the Police Act (SCORPA), which makes recommendations to address a disturbing pattern of discrimination in policing in our province.
BC’s Office of the Human Rights Commissioner’s (BCOHRC) includes expert analysis of data from five police jurisdictions that reveals disturbing racial disparities in policing activities across B.C. The submission makes 29 recommendations for reforming policing in B.C. to reduce systemic discrimination and improve safety.

The Commissioner’s recommendations centre on:

  • realizing B.C.’s obligations to Indigenous peoples
  • implementing a human rights-based approach to the collection of disaggregated data
  • reforming the practice of street checks
  • de-tasking the police
  • improving police accountability

The report also includes expert analysis of data from the Vancouver Police Department, the Nelson Police Department and the Surrey, Duncan and Prince George RCMP detachments, which were selected to represent different communities with varied demographic populations in distinct parts of the province.


March 2, 2022


SK, Prince Albert Police

Call for investigation into Prince Albert Police Service over death of Indigenous infant

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN), Prince Albert Grand Council (PAGC), and Thunderchild First Nation – are calling for a Coroner’s Inquest and an immediate intervention from the Ministry of Corrections and Public Safety of the Prince Albert Police Service (PAPS). We are also calling for an independent investigation into the conduct of the PAPS and the immediate termination of two police officers, one sergeant, and the Chief of Police, following what could have been a preventable death of a First Nations infant on February 10th, 2022. Our deepest sympathies and prayers go out to the families mourning the tragic death of 13-month-old Tanner Brass.

On February 11th, 2022, the PAPS issued a statement explaining that a 13-month-old baby was the victim of a homicide. The media release further indicated that the police had responded to that same address earlier and arrested someone. They returned a few hours later after a man called police and reported that he murdered his baby. That man has since been charged.

Through our own investigation, we have determined that there are grave concerns regarding gross negligence and/or criminal negligence and systemic racism on behalf of the PAPS, in connection to this infant death. This young mother was fleeing from a domestic violence situation. When officers arrived, they assumed her fear was alcohol related and arrested her for intoxication, ignoring her pleas for help. There was no welfare check performed on Baby Tanner, nor was the Ministry of Social Services brought in for Baby Tanner’s protection.

We are deeply troubled by how this situation was handled by PAPS and that the death of Baby Tanner could have been prevented. Mobile Crisis should have been called to accompany them to make sure the child was safe. Supports should have also been given to the mother where her and her baby could have been taken to a safe shelter. What should have been basic policies and procedures that help to protect our vulnerable people in danger were completely disregarded by PAPS, and we are demanding to know why.”

“This woman was treated differently because she was First Nations. She wasn’t believed by these officers when she said she and her baby were in danger

“The actions of PAPS are clear violations of the legal imperatives connected with the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions Calls to Action. We believe that the responsibility neglected by the PAPS is discriminatory and we will not rest until drastic, immediate changes are made” says FSIN Vice Chief Heather Bear. “This young mother is vulnerable and mourning the tragic death of her child and she still doesn’t know how her child died. This police service is not serving the community. This police service is not protecting our vulnerable women and children.”


November 4, 2020


City of Montreal, QC

City of Montreal Reconciliation Strategy

Nov. 4, 2020: The Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL) welcomes the announcement by the City of Montreal which today unveiled its Reconciliation Strategy with Indigenous peoples. This initiative by the City of Montreal is an appropriate response to the Public Inquiry Commission on relations between Indigenous Peoples and certain public services in Quebec (Viens Commission) and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). It reflects the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) endorsed by the City of Montreal in 2017. “The Strategy unveiled today is perfectly in line with the Action Plan on Racism and Discrimination against First Nations that we unveiled last September”. AFNQL Chief Ghislain Picard. The Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke also welcomes the initiative by the City of Montreal.

The “Reconciliation Strategy with Indigenous Peoples” includes commitments to:

  • Develop a nation-to-nation relationship by, for example, increasing the participation of Indigenous people in city advisory boards.
  • Highlight the memory, history and heritage of Indigenous peoples in public spaces outdoors and indoors, such as at libraries.
  • Support the urban Indigenous community by creating social housing and gathering spaces adapted to specific cultural needs.
  • Improve Indigenous people’s sense of security by supporting projects that provide free, safe spaces for Indigenous women, increasing services for homeless people, creating a front-line team to respond to calls where police presence is not necessary and recruiting Indigenous people to work as police officers and within the municipal court.
  • Support Indigenous cultural development in urban areas by developing and promoting artistic and Indigenous cultural practices.
  • Offer employability services adapted to the specific needs of the Indigenous peoples living in Montreal, as well as other measures to support the economic development of the Indigenous community.
    Incorporate Indigenous knowledge and practices in projects to protect the environment.

Mayor Valérie Plante said that while the city is committed to the reconciliation process, she acknowledged there’s only so much a city can do when decision-making, including funding commitments, involves the provincial and federal governments.


June 10, 2020


City of Montreal, QC

City of Montreal Reconciliation Strategy

The Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL), Quebec Native Women (QNW), Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal and Resilience Montreal – have joined voices to condemn acts of police violence against Indigenous people and women in particular. The latest incident – the dispatch of 17 police officers in multiple cars along with a K-9 unit to confront a lone Indigenous woman who was suffering from psychological distress. They also point to the police shooting of an Indigenous woman, Chantal Moore, 5 times in Edmundson, New Brunswick on what was supposed to be a “wellness check”.

The Quebec government instigated a provincial Inquiry the “Viens Commission” or CERP. The Inquiry also heard testimonies of inappropriate and excessive interventions of police forces towards Indigenous people in different cities of Quebec, including the Montreal SPVM. However, the report of the CERP Inquiry was received with much deception and anger, as no redress recommendations were addressed to the provincial police forces of Quebec.

Invited Marc Miller, the federal Minister of Indigenous Services to invite governments of different jurisdictions to a national discussion on the accountability of police forces towards Indigenous peoples. The Government of Canada and its provinces have international obligations towards the security of Indigenous peoples, and more specifically towards women and children. The Quebec Native Women’s brief filed before the MMIWG Inquiry specifically addressed the abuses of police forces of Quebec and the actions that are needed to redress the broken relationship between police forces and Indigenous women and address the police abuses towards our women.


December 14, 2021


Sûreté du Québec

Class Action lawsuit against Sûreté du Québec

Trudel Johnston & Lespérance (TJL) – A law firm representing Val-d’Or Native Friendship Centre v. Attorney General of Québec. The purpose of this class action is to condemn the discriminatory practices and abuses committed against Indigenous people committed by certain officers of the Sûreté du Québec (the “SQ”) working in the Vallée-de-l’Or RMC (i.e. Val d’Or and its surrounding areas). This class action also aims to obtain compensation for the individuals who were victims of these acts.

The plaintiff, the Val d’Or Native Friendship Centre (the “Centre”), believes that the Government of Québec is obliged to compensate individuals for the harm caused by these actions, as they were committed by SQ officers in the context of their employment. The Centre also believes that the government must answer for the fact that the SQ was aware of these practices, but failed to put a stop to them. Finally, the Centre believes that these practices constitute violations of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the “Canadian Charter”) and the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms (the “Québec Charter”) for which the government must be held accountable. Dec. 16, 2021: Québec Native Women – salutes and supports the collective action issued on December 14 by Indigenous the women of Val-d’Or, represented by the Val-d’Or Native Friendship Centre. The discriminatory practices and abuses committed by certain officers of the Sûreté du Québec towards Indigenous people, particularly women, must be sanctioned.

The painful stories told by these women are unfortunately not a surprise to QNW. QNW is not afraid to use the exact words that explain the appalling behaviour of the police: systemic racism and discrimination against Indigenous women and girls in Quebec does exist.

QNW is asking the Government of Quebec to act in this matter to ensure that justice is done. The latter is obliged to repair any prejudice by taking the necessary measures, and this, without delay. It is inconceivable that the government can tolerate such actions. As the government’s role is to protect and ensure the safety of all, Indigenous women and girls should not be afraid of the police.


October 11, 2021


NB

Coroner’s findings in death of Rodney Levi

Government of New Brunswick – Recommendations related to police interventions and mental health services were made following the coroner’s inquest into the death of Rodney Levi who died on June 12, 2020, following an RCMP intervention that took place at a residence in Sunny Corner. The inquest found Levi’s death was a homicide…defined as any case of a person dying by the actions of another. It does not imply culpability, which is not within the mandate of the coroner or the jury.

The five-member jury heard from 27 witnesses during the inquest and made the following recommendations:

Recommendations for Aboriginal Policing

  • The Aboriginal Band Constable Program should be re-instated.
  • Until the re-instatement of the Aboriginal Band Constable Program, the RCMP should make use of a designated Aboriginal community liaison person.

Recommendations for Mental Health Services

  • Counselling services should be provided for witnesses, victims and family members of a traumatic event in a timely manner.
  • First Nations communities should be provided with increased mental health services and facilities.
  • Detox facilities should be readily available in First Nation communities.
    In situations involving mental wellness checks on First Nations, the RCMP should not be the first responder, but be on standby for mobile crisis units or an Aboriginal liaison for the community.
  • Mobile crisis units should be dispatched in a similar fashion to other emergency services (i.e.: RCMP and fire department).
  • Mobile crisis units should be a 24-hour service.
  • For mental wellness checks, the mobile crisis unit should be dispatched along with other emergency services.
  • Information sessions on mental health and addictions should be offered to First Nations communities regularly.

Recommendations for RCMP

  • Implement mandatory First Nation cultural sensitivity and awareness training at the depot (RCMP Academy) level.
  • Provide dedicated, uniformed liaison officers to each detachment that has a First Nation community in its jurisdiction.
  • Provide mandatory scenario-based suicide intervention training to cadets.
  • Expedite the deployment of body cameras to all officers nationwide.
  • Implement mandatory conducted energy weapon (CEW) training at depot.
  • Increase time in field training from six to twelve months.
  • Adopt training recommendations submitted by use-of-force expert witness, Sgt. Kelly Keith.

The chief coroner will forward these recommendations to the appropriate agency for consideration and response. The responses will be included in the chief coroner’s annual report for 2021.


May 28, 2020


Toronto Police Dept

Death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet

CBC – What began as a 911 call for help for Regis Korchinski-Paquet ended in her death. What happened inside the apartment is still unclear. Ontario’s police watchdog, the Special Investigations Unit, is looking into the death.


June 10, 2020


Toronto Police Dept

Death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet: Call for outside agency review

CBC – Knia Singh, the lawyer for the family of Regis Korchinski-Paquet is calling for the provincial police watchdog investigating her fall from a Toronto balcony to either turn over its probe to an outside agency or share the evidence gathered so far, saying the process as it stands now “limits transparency.”

Defence lawyer Knia Singh also pointed to the high clearance rate for officers in SIU investigations, arguing the process “is heavily weighted in favour of police officers being cleared of any wrongdoing.” In the last two years, the SIU said, it has laid criminal charges in 3.6 per cent of cases. In 2018, criminal charges were laid against 17 officers in 15 out of a total 416 cases closed that year. In 2019, criminal charges were laid against 15 officers in 13 out of 363 cases closed that year.


July 10, 2020


Toronto Police Dept

Death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet: Campaign Research survey

Toronto Star – The Campaign Research survey for the Toronto Star revealed 68% of respondents believed “Black people and/or Indigenous people and/or other people from racialized communities are treated worse by police than other citizens and 90 per cent want mandatory body cameras for all officers. Campaign Research principal Nick Kouvalis said the findings should be concerning to police forces across the province. “The major takeaway is the police have a big problem — they have lost the support of the super majority of the public and they need to work hard to get it back,” Kouvalis said Friday.

.https://www.thestar.com/politics/provincial/2020/07/10/more-than-two-thirds-of-ontarians-think-police-treat-black-and-indigenous-people-worse-than-others-poll-finds.html


August 27, 2020


Toronto Police Dept

Death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet: No charges laid

Toronto Star – Special Investigations Unit (SIU) concluded no criminal charges should be laid against any of the seven police officers in the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet. The detailed report documented “systemic racism exists and continues to challenge the relationship between racialized communities and the institutions of our justice system”. Immediate outcomes of the death include:

  • changes to how emergency mental health calls will be handled in Toronto with both city council and the Toronto police board recently committing to help establish a non-police emergency mental health service
  • As the new system is being developed, Toronto police will also soon expand the mobile crisis intervention teams (MCIT) a program that pairs a mental health nurse with a specially-trained officer
  • The Toronto police board also recently green-lit the $34M million purchase of body-worn cameras for front-line officers

December 23, 2021


Winnipeg Police Services

Indigenous deaths in Winnipeg

NationTalk –The family of Eishia Hudson, who was 16 years old at the time of her fatal shooting by the Winnipeg Police Service, filed a civil claim for damages on behalf of their grieving family today. The unnamed police officers who drew their weapons are named as Defendants in the claim for acts of recklessness, carelessness, and negligence that resulted in the death of Eishia. The Chief of Police Danny Smyth is also named for failing to adequately address the problem of systemic racism in the Winnipeg Police Service toward Indigenous people, drawing on the disproportionate number of Indigenous people killed by WPS since 2000 (17 of 28).

The civil claim filed today will be the only legal matter before the Courts that seeks to find liability for the loss of Eishia’s life. While an Inquest into Eishia’s death is pending, it is statutorily limited from assigning blame to any of the parties involved. “The family needs its day in Court to hold the Winnipeg Police Service accountable for what appears to be a prima facie case of excessive force resulting in the tragic death of a 16-year-old Indigenous girl,” says Kris Saxberg, co-counsel for the family. “The Inquest process does not have the scope to ascribe civil culpability. This lawsuit gives the family that opportunity.”


January 29, 2021


Winnipeg Police Services

Indigenous deaths in Winnipeg

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC), the family of the late Eishia Hudson, along with other First Nation leadership in Manitoba, including Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. (MKO), Member of Parliament for Winnipeg Centre Leah Gazan and Nahanni Fontaine, NDP Critic for MMIWG and Justice issue the following joint statement.

We are profoundly disappointed with the news that the Independent Investigations Unit (IIU) has recommended that no charges will be laid against the Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) officer who shot and killed Eishia Hudson of the Berens River First Nations in April of 2020.

“What began as a tragedy, is now an even dimmer situation, given the recently released IIU report. The report unfortunately fails to bring any hope of remedying this tragic incident. First Nations continue to find no safety, security or confidence in the Winnipeg Police Service, Manitoba Justice, and the so-called Independent Investigations Unit,” continued Grand Chief Arlen Dumas. “This report affirms that so-called watchdog agencies protect the WPS from prosecution and accountability for acts of police brutality, and that’s really what this egregious act of violence is all about the shooting and killing of Eishia Hudson: police brutality against a First Nations child.”

This tragedy may never have happened if the systemic racism that ensures First Nations children in this province are more likely to go to jail than graduate from high school was addressed. Grand Chief Dumas, Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs.

https://manitobachiefs.com/joint-statement-expresses-profound-disappointment-at-the-findings-of-the-independent-investigation-unit-report-into-the-wps-shooting-of-eishia-hudson/


January 28, 2021


Winnipeg Police Services

Indigenous deaths in Winnipeg

Southern Chief’s Organization – Through consultation with the Crown’s Office and an expert on the use of lethal force in police services, officials say they did not find justification to lay criminal charges against the officer who shot and killed Eishia. The Independent Investigation Unit Only eleven hours after Eishia’s killing, the police shot and killed Jason Collins, a father of three children. Ten days later, Stewart Andrews, a 22 year-old father was shot by police on April 18, 2020, also in Winnipeg. All three shooting victims were First Nation citizens.

Two more inquires will now begin, one by the chief medical examiner and one by the Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth, who can begin their investigation as the criminal investigation and proceedings by the IIU have closed. The family of Eishia Hudson is also calling for the following:

  • An independent assessment by outside counsel into the findings of the IIU investigation and report that is unbiased, to provide an impartial opinion on the report.
  • The chief medical examiner’s inquest to be comprehensive and address systemic problems.
  • A comprehensive public inquiry into the shooting that can address systemic racism of police interactions with Indigenous people.

April 22, 2020


Winnipeg Police Services

Indigenous deaths in Winnipeg

Vice News – The IBA is calling for an inquiry after the recent shooting deaths of two men and a 16-yerold girl within 10 days. What is the WPS track record when it comes to Indigenous deaths:

  • 2000 – 20017: 19 deaths at the hand of police (11were Indigenous)
  • 2019: of the four shooting victims, three were Indigenous
  • 2020: four Indigenous

April 16, 2020


Winnipeg Police Services

Indigenous deaths in Winnipeg

Indigenous Bar Association – Despite numerous calls by local Indigenous and human rights groups to address deep-seated institutional racism, WPS members continue to display problematic and oppressive behaviours. Dubbed “Canada’s most racist city” by Maclean’s magazine in 2015, the WPS has provided insufficient training to their members to effectively de-escalate situations, specifically those involving Indigenous youth. This killing – of a 16-year old Indigenous girl – comes less than 5 months from an incident at a Winnipeg convenience store where the WPS shot a 16-year-old Indigenous boy nine times.

The Indigenous Bar Association calls upon the government of Manitoba to call for an independent inquiry into the death of Eishia Hudson under section 7.1(1)(i) and (m) of the Manitoba Fatality Inquiries Act (CCSM. c. F52). The IBA further recommends that an inquest be considered to deal with potential biases within the WPS. Both an inquiry and inquest into Eisha Hudson’s death must be completed in a timely manner, and should ensure that the officers involved face appropriate sanctions. In preparing for this inquiry, the Indigenous Bar Association urges the government of Manitoba to review section 9 of the Calls for Justice issued by the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and ensure any steps taken follow the guidance provided therein.


June 15, 2020


NB

Killings in New Brunswick: AFN Comment

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde said “The only way to overcome racism in Canada’s policing agencies is to impose systemic change and a zero-tolerance policy aimed at eliminating the excessive use of force”. The killings of two Indigenous people in New Brunswick – 26 year-old Chantal Moore in Edmundston during a “wellness check” and Rodney Levi near the Metepenagiag Mi’kmaq Nation – has raised questions about excessive use of force when it comes to Indigenous people that too often results in death.

The shootings have prompted calls for a separate, independent inquiry and an overhaul of policing in the province, where the minister of Aboriginal affairs has already said there is a problem with systemic racism. As well, the shootings have become part of a broader international discussion about police brutality and racism


September 24, 2021


NB

Killings in New Brunswick: Appointment of Commissioner

The provincial government has appointed Manju Varma as the commissioner on systemic racism to develop an understanding of the nature and impact of systemic racism in New Brunswick. The commissioner, who will operate independently from government, will focus on the following objectives:

  • Conducting a public consultation on the nature and impact of systemic racism on newcomers, Indigenous, Black, people of colour and other marginalized groups in New Brunswick.
  • Thorough documentation of experiences in an effort to gather qualitative and quantitative data – performed through a number of means including, but not limited to:
    • a review of previous recommendations;
    • establishing a dedicated website;
    • holding virtual meetings;
    • receiving presentations and written submissions by email, mail or on the website;
    • in-person meetings with the commissioner by invitation and on request; and
    • virtual consultation sessions with foreign nationals, employers and other groups as necessary.

The commissioner will produce a final report by the end of September 2022, with recommendations for the government on the development of a provincial strategy and an action plan to address sector concerns such as:

  • barriers to opportunity;
  • equitable access to programs and services; and
  • systemic racism in health care, education, social development, housing, employment and criminal justice.

The commissioner may also identify and address other sectors that impact these designated groups. The final report will be a public document.


December 16, 2020


NB

Killings in New Brunswick: Boycott of “All- Parties Working Group on Truth and Reconciliation”

The Mi’gmaq and Wolastoqyik Chiefs – First Nations chiefs have announced that they will not be participating in the “All-Parties Working Group on Truth and Reconciliation” announced by the Province on December 3, 2020. “Based on last week’s vote, it is clear the Higgs government is not interested in solutions from indigenous leaders” said Chief Ross Perley, of Neqotkuk. The Premier and Minister Dunn both oppose an independent inquiry into systemic racism and are actively working against the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Progress with the Government of New Brunswick on the Calls to Action has been almost negligible. Previous working groups were announced and not implemented or shut down by the Province.


January 4, 2021


NB

Killings in New Brunswick: Business leaders join call for public inquiry

Huddle – Business leaders are joining the call for a public inquiry into systemic racism within the New Brunswick justice system. An open letter was written by a group of Indigenous, community, and business leaders as a call for action on systemic racism in New Brunswick. It was sent to Premier Blaine Higgs and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Arlene Dunn on December 8, 2020 with a request to meet. No response has been provided, and so we have made the decision to share it publicly.

https://medium.com/@brit.mockler/an-open-letter-on-systemic-racism-in-new-brunswick-c16deee37625


November 24, 2021


NB

Killings in New Brunswick: Indigenous boycott of government’s “Inquiry”

Wolastoqey Chiefs – For the last 17 months, we have been clear that an Indigenous-led independent inquiry is needed to review systemic racism against Indigenous people in New Brunswick. In a letter sent today to the Commissioner, we have declined to participate in the Higgs government’s ill-equipped and ineffective alternative to an inquiry into systemic racism against Indigenous people in New Brunswick. Participating would make us complicit in this government’s efforts to sweep this complex, essential issue under the rug. As Wolastoqey Chiefs, we have long warned that racism is deeply embedded in government departments like education, health, social development and justice. Yet this commission has no power to compel evidence or testimony from anyone, much less police and government. We continue to call for an Indigenous-led inquiry into systemic racism in New Brunswick.


September 20, 2020


NB

Killings in New Brunswick: Minister of Aboriginal Affairs fired

CBC – Premier Higgs has removed Jake Stewart from his position as Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and folded Aboriginal Affairs in with the duties and responsibilities of the Minister of Economic Development and Small Business, Minister responsible for Opportunities New Brunswick and Minister responsible for Immigration. The premier refused to respond to a survey on systemic racism submitted by the Wolastoqey Nations before the election


January 15, 2020


NB

Killings in New Brunswick: No details released on police shootings

The Native Women’s Association of Canada – Neither the New Brunswick Prosecutions Service nor the New Brunswick Coroner have released details of the investigation into the police shooting of Chantal Moore conducted by the Quebec-based agency BEI that weas delivered to them in December.


November 16, 2020


NB

Killings in New Brunswick: Silence from Government in response to call for inquiry

Two months after winning the provincial election and seven weeks after he appointed his cabinet, none of the six Wolastoqey Chiefs have heard anything from Premier Blaine Higgs or Aboriginal Affairs Minister Arlene Dunn. The Chiefs have mounted a campaign to convince MPs to vote in support of a motion calling for an independent inquiry to address systemic racism in the province.


July 9, 2020


NB

Killings in New Brunswick: Wolastoqey Nation Terms of Reference for Inquiry

Wolastoqey Nation – Proposed terms of reference for an independent inquiry into systemic racism against Indigenous people were released today by the Wolastoqey Nation in New Brunswick. “For hundreds of years, a regime of systemic racism has been built up in this province and this country against its Indigenous peoples,” said Chief Ross Perley of Neqotkuk (Tobique First Nation), speaking on behalf of the six Chiefs of the Wolastoqey Nation in New Brunswick.The Wolastoqey Chiefs have prepared draft terms of reference for an independent inquiry which would:

  • Examine the relationship and state of conditions between Indigenous people and the justice system in New Brunswick and suggest ways to improve;
  • Be led by Indigenous people with terms of reference developed by Indigenous Nations;
  • Review previous recommendations and provide an interim report within 60 days recommending what recommendations from these other reports can be implemented immediately; and
  • Provide a final report within six months with implementation-ready recommendations.

An inquiry has the same powers as a judge and can compel the government to provide witnesses and testimony, and any documents necessary to fully investigate systemic racism. A task force or other lesser body does not have these powers.


August 31, 2020


AB, BC, Fed. Govt., MB, NB, NL, NS, NT, NU, ON, PE, QC, SK, YT

McDonald-Laurier Report on Systemic Racism in Policing

MacDonald-Laurier Institute – “Systemic racism in policing in Canada and approaches to fixing it,” argues that the fault for this lies primarily with political leaders who set the framework conditions and constraints for the delivery of police services. This commentary is based on the author’s written submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security.

Between 2000-2017, 43 individuals were identified as Black (10 unarmed) and 69 were identified as Indigenous (12 unarmed) out of a total of 461 fatal encounters with police statistics – that includes deaths from natural causes, medical complications, overdoses, etc. 16% of all deaths where police are involved are Indigenous who represent under 5% of the total population in Canada

The MLI Systemic Racism Commentary states: Systemic racism represents the historical legacy that institutions have. As society evolves, so does its view of what is right and wrong. Society and policing have both evolved; but society has been and is evolving much faster than policing. So, the gap between civil society and policing has widened. Without a serious, meaningful commitment to systematic reform, it will continue to widen, which will exacerbate tensions. What can be done:

First, leadership alone cannot and will not fix the issue. 40 years of research in political sociology shows that bureaucracies reproduce themselves; in the process, they also reproduce their institutional culture and problems.
Second, we need to have Statistics Canada systematically collect use-of- force data for policing across Canada, including the RCMP.
Third, there needs to be greater emphasis on professionalizing policing. Racist attitudes, overt acts of violence or excessive force suggest that the police officer has assimilated a solipsistic (“us and them”) mentality, which has them to act aggressively rather than risk being hurt themselves.
Lastly, more has to be done to reduce the propensity for violence: the CRCC has explicitly called out the RCMP for the ubiquity of its command and control approach (CRCC 2020).

Recommendations:

  • Change the leadership and management model by civilianizing the senior leadership and management of police forces. Uniformed members should be running operations – but not ultimately be in charge of the whole organization.
  • Increase civilianization of delivery of services. Policing functions have grown as public expectations change and governments under-invest in social services. In the process, police have taken on a growing number of non-policing functions. Canada needs a better model for public and community safety.
  • Community policing: This is particularly problematic for the RCMP: in many locations where the RCMP provides contract policing, uniformed members are neither members of the community they police, nor do they live in that community. What difference does community policing make? In February of this year, the RCMP and OPP were both faced with enforcing injunctions in areas on or near reserves/dedicated Aboriginal land: on Wet’suwet’en territory in BC and Tyendinaga in Ontario. The RCMP’s enforcement action largely discounted the costs to relations with the community;
  • The RCMP is too big and has too many roles, which makes it difficult if not impossible to govern.
    • First, get the RCMP out of contract policing
    • Second, give the responsibility for our whole border to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), as opposed to the current approach in which CBSA shares responsibilities with the RCMP.
    • Third, criminal intelligence should be removed from the federal police force. This can be done by emancipating the Criminal Intelligence Service of Canada as a stand-along organization
    • Fourth, the RCMP should be turned into a genuinely federal police force, like the Australian Federal Police (AFP), which can then concentrate solely on genuinely federal priorities and law enforcement operations.

Reforms:

  • give the RCMP separate employer status so it can better control its HR destiny;
  • remunerate members based on skills instead of seniority;
  • completely overhaul the RCMP’s training regimen at the RCMP Academy from the ground up, in order to avoid a para-military command and control mindset;
  • create a completely separate career and professional development framework and path for officers, similar to the military; and
  • underwrite a national 311NG (Next Generation) system to divert non-emergency calls from the 911 system.

https://macdonaldlaurier.ca/files/pdf/20200812_Police_Racism_Leuprecht_COMMENTARY_FWeb.pdf?mc_cid=60d8de7609&mc_eid=%5BUNIQID%5D.


July 23, 2020


AB, BC, Fed. Govt., MB, NB, NL, NS, NT, NU, ON, PE, QC, SK, YT

McDonald-Laurier Report on Systemic Racism in Policing

The CBC “Deadly Force” database indicates that the RCMP are 3x more likely to use lethal force than other police forces in Canada. The CBC data found that 68 per cent of people killed in police encounters were suffering with some kind of mental illness, addiction or both. “When we get broader statistical information that are documenting these patterns year after year after year, it’s much more difficult for police officials and politicians to just turn their backs and say that these allegations are unfounded,” University of Toronto Criminologist professor Scot Wortley said. “I really do believe that the idea behind defunding the police, or the concept of defunding the police, is quite a good one in terms of reformulating how we’re going to exercise policing services in our society.”
https://newsinteractives.cbc.ca/fatalpoliceencounters/
Lorne Foster, professor at York University has studied race-based data in policing. He says police services should collect this data themselves and use it to inform their policing. “They need to look at this type of data to take the next step and to address these deeply rooted discriminatory features in our society, particularly in relation to their service and the community,” he said.

Tom Stamatakis, national president of the Canadian Police Association, says the trends that CBC identified don’t surprise him — and they won’t change unless underlying issues affecting people with mental health issues and marginalized communities are dealt with.

https://newsinteractives.cbc.ca/fatalpoliceencounters/


October 22, 2018


NU

Police Oversight

Toronto Star – Nunavut and the Northwest Territories are the only places in Canada that don’t have civilian oversight of police complaints. “The Department of Justice in Nunavut has requested that the Legal Services Board document and share concerns … relating to the allegation that instances of excessive use of force by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police appear to be on the rise in Nunavut,” 2015 letter from the territory’s legal-aid service to then-justice minister Paul Okalik. (CP)

Adam Arreak Lightstone, a member of the legislature from Iqaluit, says he’ll use the legislative sitting that begins Tuesday to demand Nunavut reconsider its police oversight. “It’s really important to ensure there’s accountability in the investigation process,” he said. “There’s a reason why most jurisdictions in Canada have a civilian oversight body to prevent police from investigating police.”

The Ottawa and Calgary police forces currently investigate complaints against Nunavut RCMP.


June 10, 2020


Vancouver Police Dept.

Police Street Checks

June 10, 2020: The BC Civil Liberties Association, Union of BC Indian Chiefs, and Hogan’s Alley Society – are calling on Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart, who is also the Vancouver Police Board Chair and Board Spokesperson, to immediately put a stop to police street checks in Vancouver. A recent review of VPD street checks provided clear evidence that the VPD has been arbitrarily stopping people without lawful authority, including people who were walking in the rain or walking a dog on a church lawn. VPD must put an end to this blatantly arbitrary, illegal, and discriminatory practice” further states Latoya Farrell of BC Civil Liberties Association.

  • Indigenous and Black people are significantly over-represented in the numbers of street checks conducted by the VPD. In 2017:
    • Indigenous people accounted for over 16% of street checks despite making up 2% of the population, and
    • Black people accounted for 5% of street checks despite making up 1% of the population.
  • In 2016, Indigenous women, who comprise 2% of Vancouver’s women population, accounted for 21% of women who were street checked

September 7, 2020


Vancouver Police Dept.

Police Street Checks: Call for complete ban

BCCLA, UBCIC, Black Lives Matter – Vancouver, Hogan’s Alley Society and Wish Drop-in Centre Society – have written a letter and petition to the Mayor Kennedy Stewart and premier John Horgan, co-signed by 87 other organizations and another 8,265 individuals calling for an immediate ban on police street checks:

https://act.bccla.org/banstreetchecks

On July 30, 2020, Commissioner Clayton Pecknold issued a follow-up letter outlining the conclusion of the investigation by the Vancouver Police Professional Standards (VPD- PSS) investigation that issued a “Notice of Discontinuance” since none of Pyxis researchers agreed to testify and ALL had destroyed their notes from their investigation relating to the two police officers above. As a result, the discrepancy between the official Vancouver Police Board Street Check Review final report that omitted details of the police officer’s actions has been swept aside.


June 25, 2020


Vancouver Police Dept.

Police Street Checks: questions about Pyxix-authored VPB Street Check Review

BCCLA and UBCIC have released a letter to the Vancouver Police Board calling into question the objectivity, methodology, and findings of the Pyxis-authored Vancouver Police Board Street Check Review, and requesting the disclosure of any and all draft reviews, field notes, or ancillary materials from Pyxis. They identified a discrepancy between the final report as released and the absence of details about an incident involving two Vancouver police officers
https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/ubcic/pages/4226/attachments/original/1593106471/BCCLA-UBCIC-letter-to-Vancouver-Police-Board-Requesting-Information-June-24-2020.pdf?1593106471


December 17, 2020


Vancouver Police Dept.

Police Street Checks: Review of VPB commissioned street check study

Former BC Information and Privacy Commissioner will conduct a review of the Vancouver Police Board-commissioned street check” study that kept allegations from being publicized of officers making racist and inappropriate comments about vulnerable and marginalized people


March 5, 2021


QC

Racism in Québec: Zero Tolerance

March 5, 2021: In response to the Viens Commission, the MMIWG Inquiry and ZERO TOLERANCE, the government of Québec announced an investment of $19.2M in the following areas:

  • Hiring additional Indigenous workers responsible for providing crime victims assistance services ($7.7 million):
    These workers will be deployed in the CAVAC network and in Indigenous organizations that have established victim assistance services, or that wish to do so.

    • An increased deployment of courtworker services for Indigenous people ($6 million):
    • Adjustment of the compensation for courtworkers already employed ($1 million);
  • Increased funding for the operation of Indigenous organizations responsible for providing courtworker services ($2.5 million);
  • Hiring of new courtworkers from within the community for First Nations and Inuit ($2.5 million);
  • Improvement and deployment of interpreter services in Indigenous languages ($5.5 million):
  • Development of agreements with Indigenous organizations for the training, accreditation and hiring of interpreters in Indigenous languages in the context of justice-related activities.

December 15, 2020


QC

Racism in Québec: Zero Tolerance

Release of “Racism in Québec: ZERO TOLERANCE: Report of the Groupe d’action contre le racism”. Initially announced in June 15, 2020 “The Groupe d’action contre le racism” was specifically asked to develop a series of effective actions to fight against racism by identifying which sectors have high-priority needs for measures in this area, particularly public security, justice, school systems, housing and employment. As part of its mandate, the “Groupe d’action contre le racism” was asked to contribute to the reflection on how to respond to the recommendations of the “Public Inquiry Commission on relations between Indigenous Peoples and certain public services in Québec”, chaired by the Honourable Jacques Viens.

Recommendations specific to Indigenous People

14 – Include in the national anti-racism awareness campaign a specific component on the realities of Indigenous peoples, to continually inform the public about the racism and discrimination experienced by First Nations and Inuit people.

15 – Make the professional orders aware of the importance of training their members on Indigenous realities.

16 – Make the history and current realities of Indigenous people in Québec a mandatory part of initial teacher training programs.

17 – Change the academic curriculum at the primary and secondary levels to update concepts related to the history, cultures, heritage and current realities of Indigenous peoples in Québec and Canada and their impact on society.

18 – Introduce continual, mandatory training on Indigenous realities for government employees.

19 – End the informal practice of prohibiting people from speaking Indigenous languages while receiving public services.

20 – Make the ban on random police stops mandatory.

21 – Add Indigenous social services workers to some police services to create mixed patrol teams.

22 – Increase the resources of Indigenous community organizations that promote access to justice for First Nations and Inuit people.

23 – Improve the capacity of the justice system to address the heritage and life trajectory of Indigenous offenders by granting more resources for the use of the Gladue principle specific to First Nations and Inuit people.

24 – Improve the quality and availability of interpretation services in Indigenous languages for better access to justice.

25 – Increase resources allocated to off-reserve housing.


June 14, 2021


Thunder Bay Police Services

Reinvestigation of Indigenous deaths

June 14, 2021: Matawa Chiefs Council – “The Matawa Chiefs Council supports the recommendations from the Ontario Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) for the reinvestigation into nine sudden deaths involving Indigenous people. Reinvestigations include three First Nation’s youth from the Seven Youth Inquest including our own Webequie First Nation youth Jordan Wabasse who tragically died in 2011 while pursuing his secondary education in Thunder Bay. We find it deeply concerning that the families and legal counsel have expressed significant concerns regarding the Thunder Bay Police Services’ (TBPS) implementation of the 44 recommendations from the OIPRD report, Broken Trust: Indigenous People and the Thunder Bay Police Service. Most significant is the concern shared by the families and supported by the MCC is the lack of transparency of the reinvestigation process. The OIPRD recommended the creation of a multi-discipline investigation team to which the TBPS unilaterally responded by adopting a three-tiered governance structure.

TBPS Chief of Police Sylvie Hauth and legal counsel currently compose the Executive Governance Committee and this raises questions about how transparent and independent the reinvestigation process really is if Chief Hauth is directly involved. Family members have asked whether Chief Hauth has recused herself from this aspect of the Executive Governance Committee’s work to avoid any conflict and it is unacceptable to the MCC that the families have been met with silence as stated on June 8, 2021. The MCC are calling for:

  • The TBPS to implement OIPRD Recommendation’s 1, 2, and 4 which include recusing Chief Hauth where her role is in potential inappropriate conflict of ensuring independent reinvestigations;
  • The implementation of Recommendation 3 which adopts a protocol for determining whether other TBPS sudden death investigations should in reinvestigated;
  • The implementation of Recommendation 5 which calls for an external review process since it’s already been two-and-a-half years since the release of the OIPRD report; and
  • All parties to rectify this situation and work towards more meaningful engagement with the families and legal counsel.

The MCC recognize and acknowledge the long-standing grief for the families whose loved one’s deaths are being reinvestigated and we hope that the reinvestigation team will move towards working with the families in a more sensitive and respectful manner which includes releasing any future report findings to the families and their legal counsel independently with empathy and compassion before the findings are made public.”


October 4, 2021


AB, BC, Fed. Govt., MB, NB, NL, NS, NT, NU, ON, PE, QC, SK, YT

SCO Survey on MMIWG Calls for Justice

Southern Chiefs Organization (SCO) – “Only 53% of murder cases involving [Indigenous] women and girls have led to charges of homicide. This is dramatically different from the national clearance rate for homicides in Canada, which was last reported as 84%” (NWAC, 2011). Governments and Canadian institutions now need to fully implement the Calls for Justice. We cannot wait any longer – lives depend on it. Our women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people deserve our time, our attention, and our full effort.

The disproportionate level of violence against Indigenous peoples is engrained in systems and institutions as a result of historical and ongoing colonialism, racism, and oppression. Furthermore, inaction and denial from non-Indigenous peoples, institutions, and governments is fueled by a continued denial of basic human dignity that is also deeply rooted in colonialism. As such, addressing the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people (MMIWG2S+) requires system level change through tangible actions that support reconciliation and decolonization efforts.

Of all the SCO community members who participated in this survey, 80% noted that they are either a family member or a friend of a missing or murdered Indigenous woman, girl, or 2SLGBTQQIA person, and/or a survivor of violence. These numbers demonstrate how close this issue is to many survey participants.

Priorities for Action from MMIWG recommendations:

  • Human and Indigenous rights (47%)
  • Justice (40%)
  • Culture and language (39%)
  • Child welfare (39%)
  • Education (37%)
  • Health and wellness (34%)
  • Policing (30%)
  • Human Security (14%)
  • Corrections (14%)
  • Natural Resource Extraction and Development (11%)
  • Media and Social Influencers (8%)

The report identifies multiple actions by key stakeholders in each of the “Priorities for Action”.
https://scoinc.mb.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/SCO-MMIWG-Report-Final.pdf


October 8, 2019


City of Montreal Police

Street Checks: Indigenous women stopped 11 x more than a white women

Montreal Gazette – Indigenous Peoples were two times more likely to be stopped in 2014, the report shows, they became six times more likely in 2017. The likelihood of an Indigenous woman being checked by officers was also found to be 11 times higher than a white woman. The researchers behind the report, mandated by the City of Montreal last year, studied police interceptions (“street checks” or “information stops” that didn’t result in charges or tickets) the SPVM carried out between 2014 and 2017. The report found the number of street checks carried out by officers skyrocketed during the four years studied, going from fewer than 19,000 per year to more than 45,000 per year.

Montreal Police Chief Sylvain Caron announced a series of measures it will implement within the next year, matching the report’s five recommendations. They include:

  • drafting a clear policy for street checks,
  • mandating an external firm to survey minority communities on race relations,
  • launching a similar study on racial profiling in February and
  • implementing a focus on racial biases into all of its practices and training, with an emphasis placed on Indigenous issues.

August 9, 2021


MB

Survey on racism experiences

Aug. 9, 2021: Southern Chiefs Organization – Released a new report on First Nation experiences of racism when dealing with police services across Manitoba: “SCO’s First Nation Experiences of Racism in Policing Survey

“A majority of our citizens face racism, and even violence and intimidation, when interacting with police officers that are meant to serve and protect them. While many police officers are not racist, it’s clear that the issue goes far beyond “a few bad apples”. We are talking about deep, systemic issues of racism within Manitoba’s police services.” SCO Grand Chief Jerry Daniels.

  • 88 per cent, agreed with the statement: “Racism is a problem in policing in Manitoba.”
  • 90 per cent of respondents reporting to have had at least one personal experience with police in Manitoba.
    nearly 53 per cent of respondents saying they feel less safe when they see police.
  • 70 per cent of respondents who indicated that they have personally interacted with police report experiencing racism firsthand and more than 81 per cent report that a family member of theirs has also experienced racism when dealing with police.
  • almost 59 per cent, reporting that they either often or always expect to face racism when dealing with Manitoba’s police services.
  • more than 66 per cent of respondents reported that they have actively avoided seeking help from police in Manitoba due to the effects of racism. Many shared that they have been treated as though they were the criminal when in reality, they were the victim of a crime and looking for help from the police with 65 per cent of respondent disagreeing or strongly disagreeing with the statement, “Overall, police in Manitoba are trustworthy”.
  • over 75 per cent, either disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement that police in Manitoba use force appropriately
  • Eighty-two per cent of respondents either disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement “Overall, police in Manitoba take responsibility for their actions.”

Survey participants offered key advice for police services and decision makers on how to improve and combat systemic racism in Manitoba’s policing. The top five suggestions were:

  1. Increase Indigenous representation in police forces;
  2. Implement mandatory training/education on mental health and Indigenous histories, traditions, and cultures;
  3. Defund the police and invest in social wellness and community-based initiatives;
  4. Increase screening requirements for police recruits;
  5. Establish community-based and community-led policing initiatives.

https://scoinc.mb.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/SCO-Racism-in-Policing-Report-Web-FIN.pdf


January 28, 2021


Vancouver Police Dept.

Trespass Prevention Program

NationTalk – A coalition of Indigenous, women, Downtown Eastside, and legal organizations are voicing their opposition to the Vancouver Police Department’s Trespass Prevention Program, which authorizes police officers to remove people without a call for 911 service if they have allegedly violated the provincial Trespass Act. States Chief Don Tom, Vice President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, “We are appalled by the Vancouver Police Department’s Trespass Prevention Program. Indigenous people already experience institutionalized racism in the justice system and a disproportionately high level of stereotyping, surveillance and violence by police. For Indigenous people, especially our Indigenous unhoused relatives, to now be criminalized as trespassers on our own lands is a cruel legal fiction. During an era of reconciliation, in which BC has committed to fully implementing and championing its Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, this is simply unacceptable. We call on the Vancouver Police Department, the Vancouver Police Board, the City of Vancouver, and the Province of BC to all act immediately to withdraw this discriminatory program.”

Since 2016, the Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner has repeatedly noted conflict of interest issues arising when Vancouver police officers act as agents for the private sector. In a VPD program known as the Restaurant Watch/Bar Watch Agreement that similarly derives authority from the Trespass Act, the Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner has emphasized “this relationship places them [police officers] in a conflict of interest whereby they are simultaneously acting as private citizens and peace officers.” Additionally, the Commissioner has raised police accountability concerns, including the practice of demanding identification akin to street checks, and the use of police databases to record and collect identifying information.


June 16, 2021


Vancouver Police Dept.

Wrongful Detainment: Dr. Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond appointed by UBCIC

Union of BC Indian Chiefs – and Heiltsuk Nation announced today that Dr. Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, former judge and Senior Associate Counsel with Woodward & Company, will be applying to intervene on behalf of UBCIC in an ongoing BC human rights case against the VPD for the wrongful detainment of Maxwell Johnson and his granddaughter, outside a bank in Vancouver in December of 2019.

In making the announcement, the leaders also released security camera video of the detainment, which shows that after a bank employee called 911 in response to suspicions of fraud, Max and his granddaughter – both members of the Heiltsuk Nation – were detained, brought out onto a busy downtown sidewalk, separated from one another, handcuffed, and searched. “This intervention is about supporting a complaint that aims to fight systemic racism, hold institutions accountable, and offer redress for the racial profiling and wrongful detainment that Max and his granddaughter experienced at the hands of the VPD,” said Dr. Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond. “This case embodies the systemic racism that we must all work together to eliminate.

“We welcome today’s important intervention by UBCIC and Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond,” said Marilyn Slett, Chief Councillor of the Heiltsuk Nation. “This case has become a symbol of the fight against systemic racism in Canada, and we must all work together to hold institutions to account, and make sure this never happens again.” The leaders also released a copy of the VPD’s statement of defence, and rejected its claim that officers were unaware of the pair’s Indigenous identity before detaining them. If justice is to be attainable, the VPD must be held accountable for any violations of human and Indigenous rights and set an example for other law enforcement agencies and institutions. The VPD must apologize for this incident, compensate the victims, and vastly improve its cultural competency training and anti-racism education.”

To help fight racism and to fundraise for the legal challenge, Maxwell Johnson and the Heiltsuk Nation have launched an anti-racism campaign titled, Strong as Cedar, inviting others to share their experiences of systemic racism in Canada.


October 21, 2021


Vancouver Police Dept.

Wrongful Detainment: Heiltsuk Nation members

Heiltsuk Nation – The Heiltsuk Nation and Maxwell Johnson are disappointed by the secret and exclusionary process that the Vancouver Police Board and VPD have carried out to consider a new handcuffing policy. This type of colonial top-down decision making does not support reconciliation. “Neither the nation nor the complainants were:

  • advised that the board had conducted an extensive examination of all VPD training relevant to Indigenous cultural competency;
  • consulted about their views on the policy;
  • asked to consider the appropriateness of the external consultant;
  • told who the external consultant is.

“The nation and Maxwell Johnson were kept in the dark about this policy review until yesterday (Oct. 20, 2021) when we were told there would be a Vancouver Police Board meeting to review the policy today. “Had we been consulted, we would have told the board that there needs to be components placed within this policy that address cultural safety, which is an important part of addressing systemic racism. These include police actively considering their actions given:

  • the history of racial profiling when dealing with Indigenous peoples
  • given stress and trauma that is caused to Indigenous peoples when having to deal with the police at all, and
  • given the fear of being disbelieved, misidentified, and victimized that Indigenous people feel when having to deal with the police

Police need to stop and check their assumptions when dealing with Indigenous peoples.


August 12, 2021


Vancouver Police Dept.

Wrongful Detainment: Maxwell Johnson and his granddaughter

Union of BC Indian Chiefs – The BC Human Rights Tribunal (BCHRT) decision to allow the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) and their counsel, Dr. Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, to intervene in an ongoing BC human rights complaint against the VPD for the racial profiling and wrongful detainment of Maxwell Johnson and his granddaughter outside a bank in Vancouver in December of 2019. In its decision, the BCHRT said it needed to understand the full context of the complaint to meaningfully determine whether discrimination occurred, stating that: “[f]or Indigenous people in Canada, this context includes a legacy of stereotyping and prejudice” (para 48). The BCHRT said that given UBCIC’s expertise, it was satisfied that UBCIC would be able to assist the Tribunal as an intervenor to contextualize “the Indigenous experience of policing and the nature of anti‐Indigenous racism and stereotyping central to the allegations…” (para 49).

This case embodies the systemic racism that we must all work together to eliminate, and this intervention will allow UBCIC to address many aspects of that racism in a deep way that is a sign of how important these issues are to the Tribunal.” Union of BC Indian Chiefs and Heiltsuk Tribal Council in a joint statement.


April 6, 2022


Vancouver Police Dept.

Wrongful Detainment: VPD officers commit professional misconduct

Heiltsuk Nation: Vancouver – Retired judge Brian Neal, Q.C., has decided VPD officers committed professional misconduct by recklessly arresting and handcuffing Maxwell Johnson and his 12-year-old granddaughter on December 20, 2019, while the two were trying to open a bank account for her at the Bank of Montreal.

He found that the granddaughter and grandfather presented no risk to the safety of any person and provided no concern for flight or unpredictability. Neal also found that the officers acted recklessly and without any reflection, assumed fraud without sufficient information, did not take time to exercise judgment to assess if anyone was at risk, and assumed that handcuffing was appropriate without good and sufficient cause.

“I have found that the officers’ actions in arresting and handcuffing the parties was undertaken without reasonable and probable grounds. I have found that no reasonable police officer standing in the shoes of the two officers could support such actions based on suspicion alone. Furthermore, I have found that such actions demonstrated serious, blameworthy conduct contrary to section 77 of the Police Act,” wrote Neal in his decision.

The tribunal ordered the officers be suspended for several days, that they complete intensive, immersive Indigenous cultural sensitivity training, and that they complete re-training on de-escalation skills, risk assessment, and power of arrest. The tribunal also ordered the officers to provide a written apology and offer to meet to listen to concerns and give an oral apology.

“We are inviting the officers to travel to Bella Bella to take part in an apology ceremony with Max, his granddaughter, and our community,” said Marilyn Slett, elected Chief of the Heiltsuk Nation. “This story has become a symbol of the fight against systemic racism, and we are committed to working with the officers to make broader change and ensure this never happens again.”