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Frustrations raised concerning province’s plan for bail system

March 6, 2024

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs express their frustration with the provinces new five-point community safety plan, meant to bolster Manitoba’s bail system and crack down on repeat offenders. Mitchell Ringos reports.

First People’s Law Report: City News – An ex-gang member who now teaches youth to stay out of jail is speaking out against the lack of support available for those on bail.

This comes at a time when the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs expressed their frustration with the province’s new five-point community safety plan, meant to bolster Manitoba’s bail system and crack down on repeat offenders.

“They didn’t give me no resources to change myself to help me change myself they didn’t give me no support they just pushed me out,” said Tim Barron, Four Sacred Hearts.

“I didn’t smarten up until I looked into things myself and doing things myself, but some people need a little more support.”

When Barron was a gang member he reoffended many times, which he says was in large part due to the lack of support in jail and out of jail, saying the province’s new five-point community safety plan does the opposite of what’s needed by keeping people in jail longer, instead of helping them get back on their feet.

“Granting the Crown attorneys and prosecutors more rights to be bailed denied is going to keep more men and women inside that’s their job that’s their duty that’s what they’re paid for,” explained Barron.

Barron has turned his life around, now speaking at schools in Winnipeg, and in Manitoba First Nations as part of a grassroots Indigenous-lead organization called the Four Sacred Hearts, which helps youth not follow the same path they did and says all the real change is happening in the communities not through the province.

“We need the government to recognize us and to value us as organizations as being helpers to people inside but also outside, because we are the ones who can best help them to maybe turn their lives around.”

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs also reacted to the new plan, with Grand Chief Cathy Merrick saying she is extremely disappointed in the provincial government’s neglect of its duty to consult with First Nations Leadership in formulating a plan for provincial bail system reform.

“We had a lot to offer in terms of what impacts there are on our First Nations when they get released from the systems that their in and that we are able to ensure that we are heard of what we can province but it’s coming from the top down to first nations and that’s not right,” said Grand Chief Merrick.

The AMC is also saying that this new bill stands in direct contravention of provisions 15(2) and 19 of the UNDRIP, further eroding the relationship between First Nations and the provincial government.

“When we talk about reconciliation and UNDRIP we have to be there to be at the table and discuss the issues that affect our First Nations peoples.”

By Mitchell Ringos

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