December 5, 2022
AFN Stands With Kiashke Zaaging Anishinabek (Gull Bay First Nation) In Action Against Canada For Inequitable Funding And Support For First Nation Police Services
NationTalk: (Ottawa, ON) – Today, Kiashke Zaaging Anishinaabek (Gull Bay First Nation) Chief Wilfred King has launched a legal action in Federal Court against Public Safety Canada and other federal departments in response to the inequitable funding of First Nations Police Services. King, along with Legal Counsel Chantelle Bryson (Potestio Law) announced the legal action during a media conference on Parliament Hill.
Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Regional Chief Quebec/Labrador Ghislain Picard is supportive of the legal challenge. “For too long, First Nations communities’ safety has been compromised due to a lack of funding for First Nations police services. The federal government’s take it or leave it approach to funding these police services have resulted in tragedy, as we have recently seen in James Smith Cree Nation. This legal challenge is necessary to address this longstanding issue.”
First Nations are over-represented in the justice system. Systemic racism, over-policing and police misconduct have long been studied and action is overdue. The AFN is working on developing and implementing a statutory framework recognizing First Nations Police Services as essential services with equitable funding and capacity supports.
First Nations must lead development and implementation of community safety and security action plans that support culturally appropriate models to policing are also a must.
Kiashke Zaaging Anishinaabek participates in the Public Safety Canada First Nation and Inuit Policing Facilities Program through funding agreements administered by the Ontario First Nation Policing Agreement between the province and the federal government. First Nations Police officers are paid far less than provincial and municipal counterparts, with fewer benefits and little to no raise opportunities, and pension.
At today’s press conference, Chief King stressed that the lack of sufficient funding through this program has jeopardized his community’s public safety. “Currently we have a compliment of three police officers, one that’s on extended sick leave. Therefore, we only have two officers on duty. There are times when we have no police services whatsoever.”
The current funding model leaves First Nations Police Services without basic equipment and operations needs, including police stations, satellite phones in areas without cell coverage, and support staff.
Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino‘a has announced intentions to designate First Nations Police as an essential service, however, no funding details for this designation have been revealed.
The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations people in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.
For more information please contact:
Assembly of First Nations
September 29, 2020
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
|Organizations and groups||8||18|
|Business, the Economy||1||14|
August 12, 2020
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 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
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 20, 2022
Coroner’s Inquest recommendations into death of Chantal Moore in NB
FREDERICTON (GNB) – Recommendations related to police interventions, training and equipment were made following the coroner’s inquest into the death of Chantel Moore.
The inquest was held May 16-19 in Fredericton. Moore, who lived in Edmundston, died on June 4, 2020, following an Edmundston Police Force intervention that took place at her home.
An inquest is a formal court proceeding that allows public presentation of all evidence relating to a death. It does not make any finding of legal responsibility, nor does it assign blame. However, recommendations can be made aimed at preventing deaths under similar circumstances in the future.
Coroners and juries can classify a death as a homicide, suicide, accident, natural causes or cause undetermined. The inquest found Moore’s death was a homicide.
The classification of “homicide” in a coroner’s inquest is 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 16 witnesses during the inquest and made the following recommendations:
- That New Brunswick have one independent agency to oversee serious incidents involving the use of force by police.
- That a clear, concise protocol is in place for activating the process of an independent review of serious incidents.
- That officers be assessed on their comprehension of current procedures and policies.
- That police undertake relationship-building actions with First Nations communities, including cultural sensitivity training and having a First Nations community liaison.
- That police officers should be trained and maintain certification in standard CPR and first aid.
- That police officers should be trained and provided the necessary equipment to provide combat casualty care.
- That officers be provided with crisis intervention/de-escalation training.
- That officers be provided scenario training that emphasizes situational awareness and repositioning and disengagement options.
- That police policy on medical emergencies be reviewed.
- That police policy on providing first aid after force has been applied be reviewed so that officers begin emergency medical aid as soon as possible and continue that aid until medical responders arrive and take over.
- That police be provided training about the proper procedures following a serious incident involving serious injury or death and that front line supervisors be provided training on the critical aspects of immediate scene command and control to ensure the integrity of evidence and witnesses.
- That police have a policy on the maintenance of equipment and the reporting of broken or non-functional equipment.
- That police have a policy mandating the wearing of use-of-force equipment.
- That officers have more access to less-lethal tools.
- That police agencies have a process in place to learn from and make continuous improvement after every use-of-force event.
- That protocols, where possible, require a minimum of two officers respond to mental health and welfare check requests.
- That officer training reinforces the importance of making verbal police announcements.
The chief coroner will forward these recommendations to the appropriate agencies or organizations for consideration and response. The responses will be included in the chief coroner’s annual report for 2022.
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.
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
October 28, 2022
Gull Bay First Nation Complaints of Anti-Indigenous Racism by the OPP – Armstrong Detachment Go Unanswered By OPP Commissioner
NationTalk: Gull Bay First Nation is a community approximately 250 kilometers northeast of Thunder Bay ON, near the village of Armstrong. GBFN has filed three (3) formal complaints of anti-Indigenous racism, discrimination and harassment in OPP services with OPP Commissioner Carrique which have gone wholly unaddressed despite their severity and the passage of many months.
Mr. Jeremiah Skunk is a young Indigenous man who was visiting his girlfriend in Armstrong ON in the summer of 2019. They had a non-violent argument which was reported to the OPP – Armstrong Detachment by a bystander. Mr. Skunk had left the residence and was walking down the street when he was apprehended by OPP Sergeant Tammy Bradley, cuffed, detained, placed in the back of her cruiser, and driven approximately 40 kilometers down the desolate highway #527 which runs 235km from Armstrong through the bush to Thunder Bay. There, he was forced out of the cruiser, threatened to not return and left in scorching summer heat with no water or food. Mr. Skunk walked for approximately 10 hours, during which he was pursued by a bear, before being accidentally found by a First Nations Constable from Gull Bay First Nation after drinking out of dirty roadside ditches and then the Gull River to survive. He easily could have died.
Gull Bay First Nation pursued the family’s complaint to the OPP starting in 2019 but was ignored and then together with the Chiefs of Ontario filed complaint directly with OPP Commissioner Carrique on February 11, 2022. To date, they have not had a response with findings of any investigation or to their demand that Sergeant Bradley be removed from the OPP – Armstrong Detachment and from active service in any community, pending the outcome of the complaint investigation.
On September 14, 2022, Gull Bay First Nation re-iterated this complaint to Commissioner Carrique and added two further complaints against Sergeant Bradley, upon which they again demanded that she be removed from the OPP – Armstrong Detachment and active service in any community.
In January 2022, the GBFN Special Advisor to Chief and Council Beth Boon, who had been vocal in OPP meetings in advocating for accountability for the Mr. Skunk incident, was subjected to discrimination, harassment and reprisal by OPP – Thunder Bay Detachment at the direction of Sergeant Bradley from the OPP-Armstrong Detachment .
Specifically, she was targeted with false accusations of assault on a GBFN member and threatened charges, in violation of the jurisdiction of GBFN Constables who handle such matters within the community but who were directed by OPP – Thunder Bay Detachment to charge Ms. Boon without any investigation.
Once the matter was returned to GBFN Constables for investigation upon the advocacy of Chief King, they concluded that there were no grounds for the threatened charges. Though complaint investigations are routinely closed at this point, Ms. Boon was then informed that the OPP – Armstrong Detachment had directed the investigating GBFN Constable to keep the file open in perpetuity as “inconclusive” as though guilty until proven innocent and to harm her. Ms. Boon then experienced being repeatedly tailed by the OPP when travelling from Gull Bay First Nation to Thunder Bay for GBFN business.
On April 27, 2021, an elderly GBFN member, Art Furoy, was arrested by OPP – Armstrong Detachment officers, for allegedly providing cannabis to a young girl. The charges were soon dropped without any explanation.
Mr. Furoy has never used recreational drugs in his life. He lives in Armstrong and has been a good friend to the OPP, assisting them with his heavy equipment and local knowledge from time to time. He had been invited to OPP BBQs and fish fries and awarded a volunteer plaque to recognize his service. Mr. Furoy however accidentally became witness to a theft by Sergeant Bradley of expensive OPP equipment – a heated water line for one of the OPP residences. Upon Sergeant Bradley realizing that Mr. Furoy now knew the heated water line equipment had not been returned to the OPP, she threatened him with her hand on her gun, stating “you know that equipment loaded at my place, erase that from your mind, it will be a lot healthier for you if you know what I mean.”
Mr. Furoy was soon after arrested by officers in 3 cruisers racing up to him in front of the Armstrong store. They refused to tell him why he was being arrested, his car was searched without cause or a warrant and his personal property was taken, including his wallet and cell phone. The charges were soon withdrawn without explanation and his personal items then returned without an apology or explanation for the arrest and charges or the withdrawal of the charges. He now fears for his safety and what has been wrongly placed on OPP databases.
GBFN is assisting the victims in seeking redress through the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal and other forums.
For further details or comments, please contact:
Chief Wilfred King
Gull Bay First Nation
September 28, 2022
Vancouver Police Dept.
Heiltsuk Grandfather and Granddaughter Reach Ground-Breaking Agreement with Vancouver Police Board to Settle Human Rights Complaints
Agreement includes damages, a significant community investment, and a two-year collaborative policy-making process to fight systemic racism, with progress to be reviewed and reported on publicly by the BC Human Rights Commissioner.
NationTalk: VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA (Sept 28, 2022) – Heiltsuk First Nation members Maxwell Johnson and his granddaughter, have reached a ground-breaking agreement with the Vancouver Police Board to settle their BC Human Rights Tribunal complaints, ending a three-year fight for justice, and culminating in significant changes to fight systemic racism.
The settlement relates to events arising when Maxwell and his granddaughter were detained and handcuffed by VPD constables after visiting a Bank of Montreal (BMO) in December 2019 to open a bank account. A bank employee had called 911 on suspicion that Johnson and his granddaughter had presented fraudulent Indigenous status cards. The handcuffing was witnessed by Mr. Johnson’s son.
Heiltsuk First Nation and UBCIC worked hard to negotiate a unique and impactful settlement agreement that would not only recognize the breadth of the injury to Mr. Johnson and his granddaughter, but also to his son and the Heiltsuk community at large, who suffered from conduct reflecting Indigenous people’s vulnerability to discrimination by the police.
The settlement reflects an understanding that the discriminatory conduct was symptomatic of more systemic issues relating to how police view and treat Indigenous peoples, and includes measures aimed at identifying and addressing systemic policing issues.
The settlement agreement provides for the following remedies (a complete overview of the agreement is available here and at www.heiltusknation.ca):
- The police Board admits that the conduct discriminated against the complainants based on their Indigenous identities;
- Damages to the Johnson family for injury to dignity, the terms of which are confidential;
- $100,000 to Heiltsuk First Nation’s restorative justice department, to fund one-year of community programming for at-risk young women, including young women who suffer anxiety due to traumatic incidents;
- The police Board, Heiltsuk and UBCIC will review and develop plans over a two-year period for:
- improving police training on anti-Indigenous racism, and cultural humility and competency, including interactions relating to Indigenous status cards, and
- ensuring investigation protocols, risk identification protocols, and handcuffing procedures are non-discriminatory towards Indigenous peoples;The police Board shall create an oversight committee, with members appointed by Heiltsuk and UBCIC, to oversee implementation of the settlement agreement;
- The police Board will publish an annual report on its website on the numbers and natures of complaints by or relating to treatment of Indigenous persons, and how they were addressed; and the BC Human Rights Commissioner will review and publicly report on systemic remedies initiatives under the settlement agreement;
- The police Board will create a position for an anti-Indigenous-racism officer, who will review complaints relating to Indigenous peoples and make recommendations to the Board, to ensure that procedures are non-discriminatory towards Indigenous peoples;
- $20,000 contribution to partially reimburse the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) for expenses relating to its preparing expert evidence as an intervenor.
The police Board will be holding an apology ceremony at Heiltsuk’s Big House in Bella Bella on October 24, 2022. Mr. Johnson, a renowned Heiltsuk artist, will gift an artwork to the Board at the ceremony to signify reconciliation after the police Board formally apologizes. The ceremony will mark the start of the Board, Heiltsuk, and UBCIC working together on the initiatives under the settlement.
The Johnson family and Heiltsuk Nation’s fight against systemic racism includes the Strong as Cedar campaign (www.strongascedar.ca) which empowers Indigenous people and communities of colour to fight racism in Canada by sharing and gathering stories and highlighting solutions for change.
“Today’s settlement ends our legal action against the Vancouver Police Board. While my family is still in a healing process, we are committed to reconciliation and working with the police board to fight systemic racism, and make sure no one else has to experience what we went through. With today’s agreement, we can truly begin to heal and move forward.
“Today is an incredible victory against systemic racism. We all owe a debt of gratitude to Max and his granddaughter for their tireless pursuit of justice. As a nation, we will work hard with our partners to implement the many initiatives in this agreement, and make sure this kind of incident never happens again.”
Chief Councillor, Heiltsuk Nation
“The Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs expresses our deepest gratitude and respect for the strength and determination of Maxwell Johnson Sr, Tori-Anne and family, as well as the Heiltsuk Tribal Council and Chief Slett. They stood up for the rights of our peoples and have been vindicated fully today. Discrimination and police mistreatment is traumatic, lasting, and the scars are physical and emotional. Historic settlements like the one announced today are welcome and long overdue. However, UBCIC knows once a settlement is reached, the work does not end, in fact begins and it will require serious commitment and accountability, especially if we hope to dismantle individual, systemic racism and structural discrimination. The commitments for change in this historic settlement present a path for reform and respect for the human rights of Indigenous peoples in Vancouver and the UBCIC will work with First Nations of the territory going forward. We hope this stands as an example for other police agencies and services across BC as they too have unfinished work.”
Chief Don Tom (Kwul’thut’stun)
“The Board recognizes the significance of the settlement we have reached with Mr. Maxwell Johnson and his granddaughter. We are looking forward to this opportunity to work in partnership with the groups involved by reviewing and improving a range of culturally sensitive and relevant practices and policies, in particular those focused on Indigenous people. We are committed to taking positive and collaborative steps forward to strengthen the Board and VPD’s Indigenous relations and to meet the terms of the settlement agreement in a way that honours the principles of Truth and Reconciliation, while building trust and confidence in the VPD and the Board’s oversight role of the VPD. It is our sincere goal to create a more meaningful relationship with Indigenous communities, and we believe the terms of this settlement will go a long way in furthering this goal.”
Vancouver Police Board
Following the police incident in December of 2019, Mr. Johnson and his granddaughter filed a complaint against the police board with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal, and against the constables to the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner (OPCC).
In January 2022, retired judge Brian Neal, Q.C., acting as the Discipline Authority for the OPCC, found that the officers committed professional misconduct and acted recklessly, concluding that handcuffing the granddaughter was inexcusable, and the conduct confirmed concerns about police actions involving Indigenous people.
Mr. Johnson and his granddaughter also filed a complaint against the bank, BMO, in November 2020 with the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. That complaint settled earlier this year, with Mr. Johnson also closing his account at BMO, as the incident triggers painful memories.
Prior to this settlement, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) obtained permission from the Human Rights Tribunal to participate in the hearing by providing expert evidence on policing and systemic discrimination against Indigenous peoples.
Ng Ariss Fong | Lawyers
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.
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.
July 5, 2022
Killings in NB: The mandate of N.B.’s systemic racism commissioner perpetuates the problem
New Brunswick has skirted Indigenous demands for a public inquiry into the justice system by naming the commissioner, her former senior adviser writes.
Policy Options: Robert Tay-Burroughs – If New Brunswick’s government is looking for an example of systemic racism at work in the province, it need look no further than the mandate it gave to its own commissioner on systemic racism, Manju Varma. Varma was named the first provincial commissioner on systemic racism in the country in September 2021, and I was appointed her senior adviser in October. Last month, I resigned.
She is now two-thirds into the one-year mandate from the provincial government to study the extent and scope of systemic racism and to provide recommendations to eliminate it from within governing structures and institutions.
This mandate asked the commissioner to explore a broad collection of issues in six public sectors: education, housing, social development, health, employment and criminal justice. We prioritized our focus on the activities of corresponding provincial government departments. To address the nature and effects of systemic racism on racialized immigrants and on Indigenous Peoples in New Brunswick, we have examined the government’s immigration secretariat in Opportunities NB and the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. Dr. Varma will publish her findings and final report in October 2022.
I am proud of our work and the space we gave to racialized people across New Brunswick to share their stories, experiences and visions for a better New Brunswick. But we were not what Indigenous leaders in New Brunswick demanded in the summer of 2020.
In May of that year, the province reacted to the violent murder of George Floyd by police in the United States, but – closer to home – communities grieved the police-involved death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet in Toronto and the Crown’s failure to prosecute the man charged in the hit-and-run death of Elsipogtog resident Brady Francis in New Brunswick. In June, an Edmundston police officer killed Chantel Moore of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation near Tofino, B.C. Eight days later, near Miramichi, an RCMP officer killed Rodney Levi of Metepenagiag. Independent coroners’ inquests have since ruled that both Moore and Levi died by homicide.
Mi’gmaq and Wolastoqey chiefs and many others across the province called for a public inquiry into systemic racism against Indigenous Peoples in New Brunswick’s criminal justice and policing sectors. In December 2020, when asked to support a motion in the legislature calling for a public inquiry, the government refused.
Instead of responding directly and positively to calls for the public inquiry, the government has, in its decision to provide us with this mandate, undermined the legitimacy of the concerns for the safety of First Nations people living in this province and on this land. We must acknowledge the violence inflicted upon First Nations people in New Brunswick through the creation of our mandate. Equating the manifestations of systemic racism unique to Indigenous Peoples with those of Black people and non-white settlers like the two of us minimizes the specific oppression of Indigenous Peoples. That is racist. We clearly cannot be an appropriate alternative to a public inquiry.
These decisions by the government have damaged its relations with First Nations and have hampered our ability to conduct our work. We were grateful for the engagement of the Mi’gmaq and Peskotomuhkati leaderships and remained conscious of their frustration, sense of betrayal and deep mistrust of the government.
However, in June, the chiefs of nine Mi’gmaq communities announced they would no longer participate in the commissioner’s process. They now join the Wolastoqey nation, who earlier chose to not participate in our work for fear that their engagement would legitimize this act of racism, and that their contributions would be neither heard nor accepted by government.
In rejecting participation in our work, the Wolastoqey leadership has been clear. Demands for a public inquiry remain. In accepting its participation in our work, the Mi’gmaq nation has been equally clear. Expectations for a public inquiry are absolute.
In the first half of 2020, Indigenous people accounted for 16 per cent of deaths from use of deadly force by police in Canada. In New Brunswick, they accounted for 100 per cent of deaths. Mi’gmaq, Wolastoqiyik and Peskotomuhkati should not have to continue, as Mi’gmaw scholar and jurist Naiomi Metallic notes, to “tolerate a deeply unresponsive justice system in part because they have not yet had their own public inquiry.”
However, after being asked in May 2022 by Wolastoqey chiefs if Dr. Varma had seen enough at the Moore inquest to publicly recommend an Indigenous-led public inquiry, the commissioner, in an interview on CBC Radio, declined. In doing so, we have failed to meet the expectations that Indigenous leaders had of us. On June 20, I resigned from the commission.
I urge Dr. Varma to publicly and immediately call on the government to launch, without delay, an Indigenous-led, co-managed public inquiry into systemic racism against Indigenous Peoples in New Brunswick’s criminal justice and policing sectors, and that the inquiry be provided all the necessary resources and institutional support required to do its work.
The government has indicated that it is committed to rebuilding its relationship with First Nations in New Brunswick. An Indigenous-led public inquiry must be a core component of that process. The government must have the humility to accept that Wabanaki worldviews are different than European ones and must be accorded equal space and weight in this province. A public inquiry is an instrument of state; it is imperfect. But an Indigenous-led process can allow for Wabanaki worldviews to be expressed in a manner that is understood by settlers and their governance structures.
This recommendation does not negate the evident systemic racism against Black and other non-white peoples in New Brunswick’s criminal justice and policing sectors. And the commission has heard and seen evidence of violence and systemic racism against these communities, too. They also need attention. However, we must emphasize that racialized people in New Brunswick are not seeking benevolent whiteness as a fix for the systems created to exclude us from civic and political participation.
Any equity and justice we do achieve must be done in solidarity with Indigenous Peoples on whose lands we live and in recognition that the single greatest act of systemic racism in New Brunswick has been the wholesale theft of Indigenous lands by the Crown. The particular manifestations of colonialism, oppression, and racism that derive from questions of land and title are central to tackling systemic racism.
Any and all government initiatives in response to systemic racism against Indigenous Peoples must acknowledge and address this truth. New Brunswick’s commitment to reconciliation must be matched by an equally robust commitment to truth. I hope that the public inquiry will give public and formal space for this truth to be told.
June 15, 2020
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
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
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
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.
November 24, 2021
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
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
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
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
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).
- 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.
- 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.
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.”
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.
August 15, 2022
Fed. Govt., SK
Native Women’s Association of Canada calls for the return of Dawn Walker to Canada
“The fear and lack of choice that Dawn Walker says drove her decision to flee to the United States is reflected in the thousands of testimonies heard by the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls who faced systemic discrimination on all fronts – we need to act on the Calls to Justice now.” – NWAC President, Carol McBride.
OTTAWA – The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is calling upon the federal government to negotiate a rapid return to this country for Dawn Walker, an Okanese Cree woman who is being held in an Oregon jail after fleeing to the United States with her seven-year-old son.
NWAC argues it is in the best interests of all concerned that Ms. Walker be allowed to quickly address charges of parental abduction and public mischief in Canada.
“We are very relieved to hear her son, Vincent, has been returned to Canada and is safely in the custody of a legal guardian,” said NWAC President Carol McBride. “But we are gravely concerned officials in the United States, and even here in Canada, will fail to take full account of the systemic circumstances involved when Indigenous women believe they are not safe, even in reaching out to those mandated to protect them.
The Supreme Court of Canada determined that Indigenous women who are victims of violence face barriers and discrimination within the justice system, especially when it comes to having their stories of abuse given the same credence that is extended to non-Indigenous women.
The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls found that the violence directed at Indigenous women in Canada is a genocide, and we know much of that violence is perpetrated by domestic partners. The National Inquiry report also ascribes the high risk of violence to the failure of police and others in the criminal justice system to adequately respond to intimate partner crime, or provide for, the needs of Indigenous women and girls.
Ms. Walker says she left Canada because she feared for her and her son’s safety. She also says she suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) because of domestic abuse. The next legal steps taken against her must acknowledge the realities of Indigenous women amidst the ongoing genocide.
“We cannot know the full facts of this case until they come before the courts,” said President McBride. We urge the return of Ms. Walker to Canada where a National Inquiry has addressed the unique circumstances faced by Indigenous women in the justice system, both as victims and as the accused. Ms. Walker should be in a place where she has an extended network of support. She should be allowed to come home.”
For information, or to arrange an interview, contact:
October 19, 2022
Newfoundland and Labrador police force admits systemic racism, commits to improving
CityNews: Canadian Press: ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Newfoundland and Labrador’s provincial police force has acknowledged systemic racism within its ranks, as well as the contribution of police to the injustices faced by Indigenous and other racialized people.
ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Newfoundland and Labrador’s provincial police force has acknowledged systemic racism within its ranks, as well as the contribution of police to the injustices faced by Indigenous and other racialized people.
The force said Wednesday it is prepared to work with St. John’s-based Indigenous collective First Voice to implement the calls for justice laid out by the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
“The (Royal Newfoundland Constabulary) has made commitments to review current training to ensure … officers and civilians are equipped with appropriate anti-racism training, to undertake a review of policies and procedures, and to work to repair our relationship with the urban Indigenous community with counsel from First Voice,” the force said in a statement.
First Voice called the police force’s acknowledgment a “significant step” and renewed its calls for police reform.
“Welcome as they are, these commitments do not alter the urgent need for systemic change in the way that policing is carried out in Newfoundland and Labrador,” the group said in a news release.
The constabulary’s statement marked a change of heart for the force. Police Chief Pat Roche told CBC News in June that he did not believe systemic racism existed within the force, prompting repeated calls from First Voice for him to reconsider.
The force said it met Tuesday with First Voice representatives, which left Roche “committed to a pathway of change and growth.”
“Reconciliation requires action,” the news release said, adding: “The RNC understands that action to advance truth and reconciliation depends on building long-term relationships that are grounded in mutual respect and understanding, and that action must be led by and in partnership with Indigenous Peoples.”
On Oct. 4, First Voice released a sweeping report on policing in Newfoundland and Labrador, and in Canada. It makes 26 recommendations for policing reform in the province, including the group’s long-standing call for the establishment of a civilian-led police oversight board. Such a board would have the power to review and recommend policies dealing with matters including use of force and the investigation of police misconduct.
Justin Campbell, a member of the group, noted that the responsibility to set up such a board lies with the provincial Justice Department.
“We have a commitment here from the chief of police to work within the powers that he has within the (Royal Newfoundland Constabulary). But what we really need is a broader commitment from the Department of Justice … to say, ‘OK, we’re going to take these recommendations, and we’re going to take them seriously. They’re going to be implemented,'” Campbell said in an interview, referring to the contents of First Voice’s report.
Roche’s commitment to work with First Voice toward implementing the national inquiry’s call for justice is “very significant,” and the group is taking it “very seriously,” Campbell said.
“We also intend to ensure that there’s accountability for following through on that commitment, he added.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 19, 2022.
Sarah Smellie, The Canadian Press
September 1, 2022
NS Government: Committee Recommendations on Collection of Race-Based Police Data
Government of Nova Scotia: The Province is accepting all recommendations by the committee established to review models for gathering race-based information from police stops.
The Wortley Report Research Committee’s report, Collection of Race-Based Police Data in Nova Scotia, makes recommendations in the areas of policy development, training, compliance and monitoring, communication, data analysis, evaluation and resourcing.
The report recommends the Minister of Justice mandate the collection of race-based data by police. Information gathered at police stops will identify over-representation when it occurs and help police improve interactions with African Nova Scotian, Indigenous and other racialized Nova Scotians. This will allow for the evaluation of policies and practices and improve transparency and accountability.
The research was led by Timothy Bryan, a University of Toronto professor with research expertise in the policing of hate crime, as well as racism and criminal justice reform.
“There is no place for racism in our justice system. It must be addressed at every level. These recommendations will guide the development of a data collection model for police stops that will help ensure police practices and interactions are free from discrimination,” said Attorney General and Justice Minister Brad Johns. “I want to thank the Wortley Report Research Committee members and Dr. Bryan for their work on this important issue.”
Committee representatives from the following organizations and areas were actively engaged in the development of the committee’s report: the African Nova Scotian Decade for People of African Descent Coalition, with additional community representation from the Northern, Cape Breton and Southwest regions, Halifax Regional Police, the Nova Scotia Chiefs of Police Association, Cape Breton Regional Police, the Nova Scotia Association of Police Governance, the RCMP, African Nova Scotian Affairs, the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission and the Nova Scotia Department of Justice.
Next steps include reviewing current data collection systems used by police agencies across the province and working with community and police to identify critical next steps to advance development of the standardized race-based data collection model.
The ANSDPAD Coalition is pleased that the Department of Justice is actively collaborating with the African Nova Scotian community to address the recommendations in the Wortley Report on street checks. The collection of race-based data on police stops is another step towards addressing systemic anti-Black racism in the justice system that has for centuries created mistrust and trauma for the African Nova Scotian community towards law enforcement. We hope this report will be mandated provincially and will allow for annual updates to the public on the interpretation of this data. It is our belief that transparency in data collection will allow for police accountability, policy changes in the current justice system and – with the development of the African Nova Scotian Justice Plan – create a space where all African Nova Scotians will feel safe when interacting with law enforcement. Vanessa Fells, Director of Operations, African Nova Scotian Decade for People of African Descent (ANSDPAD) Coalition
The Wortley Report Research Committee, with the expert support of Dr. Bryan, examined best practices in the collection of race-based data. We firmly believe that the recommendations will lead to more transparency in policing of minority communities. However, we need to remain vigilant and ensure that the implementation of the recommendations has the intended impacts. Wayne Talbot, Deputy Mayor, Town of Truro, and Chair of the Truro Board of Police Commissioners
As committee co-chair and a police representative, it was an honour to be part of the group leading this multi-stakeholder effort to help bring further accountability and long-term change in policing practices. There is much work ahead and we are grateful for the expertise and continued support of Dr. Bryan and many others, enabling Nova Scotia and its policing partners to offer concrete action in this important area. Don MacLean, Deputy Chief, Halifax Regional Police, and Co-chair, Wortley Report Research Committee
We are absolutely committed to fair and consistent policing across the province, and we understand the importance of these recommendations for race-based data collection to strengthen confidence and trust in bias-free police-community relations. With the Department of Justice, policing agencies will implement the appropriate procedures to collect data for transparency and accountability to ensure police interactions and practices are free from discrimination. Chief Robert Walsh, President, Nova Scotia Chiefs of Police Association
We’re very pleased that the Province has accepted all recommendations brought forward by the Wortley Report Research Committee. We look forward to working with the Department of Justice, municipal police services and community leaders on effective race-based data collection. Our work will be critical to ensuring policing services transform to meet the needs of all those we serve. John Ferguson, Assistant Commissioner and interim Commanding Officer, Nova Scotia RCMP
- the Halifax, Nova Scotia: Street Checks Report (the Wortley Report) by Scot Wortley, released on March 27, 2019, found that African Nova Scotians were almost six times more likely to appear in street check statistics than their representation in the population would predict
- the report includes 53 recommendations related to a street check ban, the regulation of street checks, data collection on police stops and improving police-community relations
- street checks were permanently banned in Nova Scotia on October 18, 2019
- with the release of the Minister’s Directive – Street Checks Ban, effective December 1, 2021, the Province strengthened the ban on street checks to provide clearer direction to police and ensure no Nova Scotian is subjected to the practice
- the Department, Nova Scotia RCMP and Nova Scotia Chiefs of Police Association are also collaborating with Statistics Canada to bring race-based data to the national Uniform Crime Reporting Survey
The Wortley Report Research Committee’s report on the Collection of Race-Based Police Data in Nova Scotia can be viewed at: https://humanrights.novascotia.ca/bryan
The Wortley Report on street checks is available at: https://humanrights.novascotia.ca/streetchecks
The Justice Minister’s Directive – Street Checks Ban is posted at: https://novascotia.ca/just/publications/docs/Minister-Directive-Street-Checks-Ban.pdf
October 22, 2018
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:
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
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
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
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 12, 2022
RNC chief’s refusal to acknowledge systemic racism ‘very troubling,’ says Indigenous group
First Voice calls on Pat Roche to reconsider his assertion that systemic racism isn’t a problem in the RNC
CBC News: St. John’s-based Indigenous group says it’s deeply disappointed that Pat Roche, chief of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, hasn’t responded to repeated requests that he reconsider his position that there is no systemic racism in the RNC. CBC News:
Justin Campbell, program manager for First Voice, a coalition led by the Indigenous group First Light, said it shows that the RNC’s leadership “feels that they don’t need to be accountable to the communities that they are meant to be serving.”
“From our perspective, and the perspective of many other Indigenous organizations, the evidence is overwhelming that racism exists in police forces.”
Systemic racism exists when there’s an outsized impact on a particular community based on the actions of an institution, noted Campbell.
“So Indigenous women are much more likely to be murdered or go missing. The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls said the lack of police action in that specific area was directly responsible for those differential outcomes,’ he said.
This past summer, First Voice released a draft report saying systemic racism is a problem in police forces across Canada, including in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Days later, in late July, CBC News asked Roche if he thinks there is systemic racism in the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary. Roche responded, “I don’t believe there is and I’ll leave it at that.”
Indigenous organization reaching out to police … and getting no response back, that’s another example of systemic racism.- Justin Campbell
Since then the Indigenous group First Voice has released its final report and has repeatedly asked Roche to reconsider his position on systemic racism in the force.
“We reached out over email. We reached out by couriered letter. We made a number of public statements asking him to reconsider his position and providing further evidence that we had that systemic racism exists and is a problem that needs to be addressed,” said Campbell.
“We received no response to any of those.”
To date, the RNC’s chief also hasn’t responded to CBC News’s repeated requests for comment.
First Voice says the very fact that police won’t respond to their calls to discuss systemic racism in policing in the province is itself an example of systemic racism.
“This exact situation of Indigenous organization reaching out to police with very legitimate and valid concerns, offering to work with those police forces to solve those problems and getting no response back — that’s another example of systemic racism,” said Campbell.
Campbell says the RNC must respond to questions about systemic racism.
“Systemic racism is clearly a problem here. Indigenous people are much more likely than non-Indigenous people to be the victims of crime. So the lack of response from police is very troubling to us,” he said.
First Voice calling on justice minister to step in
First Voice says the establishment of a civilian-led police oversight board would address systemic racism, and it’s calling on Newfoundland and Labrador’s justice minister to act.
“The fact that we haven’t been able to make any kind of headway with the RNC in particular on the issue of systemic racism despite all of the evidence that we have that shows that it’s a problem and despite our own outreach efforts means that someone else has to step in an take some accountability and show some leadership. The Minister of Justice, John Hogan, is the obvious candidate,” said Campbell.
Last week, upon receiving First Voice’s report, Hogan wouldn’t commit to making any decisions yet but said he’d be looking closely at the report and its recommendations.
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”.
June 24, 2022
Six First Nations chiefs call for end to New Brunswick commission on systemic racism
Global News: The six chiefs of New Brunswick’s Wolastoqey Nation are calling on Premier Blaine Higgs to scrap his commission on systemic racism. In a statement issued Friday morning, the Mi’kmaq chiefs said the premier will be wasting time and money if he allows the commission to continue because it lacks independence.
“Provincial government departments and institutions were built to racially discriminate against the Indigenous people of this province,” wrote Chief Ross Perley of the Tobique First Nation. “There seems to be no will from the Higgs government to acknowledge it or fix it.”
The call to scuttle the commission comes amid a dispute over a draft interim report, which was shelved in April when the Higgs government raised concerns that the commissioner had not met with many government departments to learn of work that was underway.
The Mi’kmaq chiefs decided to release the draft report on Monday. Written by commissioner Manju Varma, the draft report recommends the creation of a Indigenous-led public inquiry into systemic racism in the province. That’s something the chiefs have been demanding for the past two years.
In a statement released Monday, the chiefs said they would no longer work with the commission because the government was interfering with its work. As for Varma, she issued a statement saying the report released by the chiefs was a preliminary draft. She said she is working on a final report that will be released this fall.
But controversy flared again on Tuesday when a senior policy advisor resigned, saying he was worried that the commission was losing its independence. Robert Tay-Burroughs posted his resignation letter on social media on Tuesday, saying he has been troubled “by the false pretenses” under which the office was doing its work.
“The limits placed by external forces on what we can and cannot say … has compromised our already fragile independence,” he wrote.
Aboriginal Affairs Minister Arlene Dunn later said she had no idea what Tay-Burroughs was talking about. She said no one in the government told Varma to shelve her report.
On Friday, Chief Patricia Bernard of the Madawaska First Nation said the commission “has been corrupted by government interference.” “Worse than that, his minister is now offering to spend more money on employees after a key staffer quit. Higgs doesn’t know when to stop digging.”
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
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:
- Increase Indigenous representation in police forces;
- Implement mandatory training/education on mental health and Indigenous histories, traditions, and cultures;
- Defund the police and invest in social wellness and community-based initiatives;
- Increase screening requirements for police recruits;
- Establish community-based and community-led policing initiatives.
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.”