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Justice (25-42)

Brokenhead bringing in First Nations police to replace RCMP

March 11, 2024

Current members of the Manitoba First Nation Police Service. Last week the Brokenhead Ojibway Nation announced they are transitioning police services from the RCMP to MFNPS. Photo MFNPS© Provided by Winnipeg Sun

 First Peoples Law Report: Winnipeg SUN – A southern Manitoba First Nation is transitioning away from being policed by RCMP and bringing in a First Nations-led police force. 

“We are proud to bring a police service to Brokenhead Ojibway Nation that is by First Nations for First Nations,” Brokenhead Ojibway Nation (BON) Chief Gordon BlueSky said during an event held last week, where it was announced that the community will begin the transitioning police services to the Manitoba First Nations Policing Service (MFNPS).

BON, a community of about 800 on-reserve members along Highway 59, north of Winnipeg, is currently policed by the Selkirk RCMP detachment. 

BlueSky believes policing can be more effective in communities when the force and its officers better understand the specific needs of First Nations people and of First Nations youth. 

“Our focus is on public safety, and at every step we are working to prioritize our Ojibway identity, and a commitment to our youth,” he said. 

In 2018, the former Dakota Ojibway Tribal Council Police Department became the MFNPS, and the force now works with the goal of becoming “the police service of choice for First Nations seeking alternative solutions.”

An event held last week saw Brokenhead Ojibway Nation (BON) Chief Gordon BlueSky, fifth from right, join other officials to announce that BON will begin transitioning police services from the RCMP to the Manitoba First Nation Police Service (MFNPS) Handout: Brokenhead Ojibway Nation© Brokenhead Ojibway Nation handout

In June of 2023, BON chief and council signed a band council resolution to move delivery of policing services away from the RCMP and BlueSky said all procedural steps have now been completed to begin the transition to a MFNPS detachment this spring. 

Justice Minister Matt Wiebe said the province is supportive of First Nations communities looking to transition to First Nations-led police detachments.

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“Our government believes the best way to build trust and respect is to ensure that services for First Nation communities, especially law enforcement, reflect the unique needs of each community they serve,” Wiebe said. 

“This partnership will ensure that Brokenhead Ojibway Nation receives the policing services they need. I am confident the services provided by the Manitoba First Nations Police Service will make Brokenhead a safer place for families and individuals throughout the community.” 

MFNPS Chief of Police Doug Palson said MFNPS plans to work closely with BON on the transition. 

“Together, we will build a strong partnership to enhance community safety. Our members are excited by this opportunity, and we look forward to serving and protecting the people of this dynamic and growing community,” Palson said. 

BON becomes the ninth First Nation in Manitoba that is home to MFNPS detachments, others are the Birdtail Sioux First Nation, the Canupawakpa Dakota Nation, the Long Plain First Nation, the Opaskwayak Cree Nation, the Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation, the Sandy Bay Ojibway First Nation, the Swan Lake First Nation and the Waywayseecappo First Nation.

On its website, MFNP said they “strive to ensure that police actions and consequences are aligned with the needs, values, and expectations of the communities we serve. The need for continued cooperation and growing closeness between police members, community members and other service providers is the key to the process.” 

Story by Dave Baxter Local Journalism Initiative reporter

— Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.