FOR IMMEDIATE DISTRIBUTION
Commissioner Jacques Viens Issues a 3rd Call to Action
Montréal, March 23, 2018 – Following the testimonials heard on March 21st and 22nd regarding the funding of First Nations police forces, this morning, Commissioner Jacques Viens decided to issue a third call to action.
Commissioner Viens is calling government authorities to postpone the March 31st, 2018 tripartite negotiation deadline with every Aboriginal police force that would manifest a desire to do so to a reasonable delay of up to one year while maintaining the upgraded funding. This delay will give the First Nation police forces involved time to negotiate with authorities according to their respective needs that may vary from community to community.
Not a program, but an essential service
Like the Sûreté du Québec, the SPVM or any other municipal police force, the Commission clearly sees First Nation police forces as essential services within First Nation communities. Within one week of the deadline, First Nations are trapped in a situation where they have to sign an agreement in order to keep their police forces from being dissolved or even continuing operations without funding.
In order to ensure the long-term sustainability of these essential services, meaningful negotiation needs to take place. According to the testimonies given before the Commision, offers were only sent to the communities very recently and therefore, negotiations could not take place.
During the March 22nd hearing, Commissioner Viens stipulated that Aboriginal citizens in Québec feel better served by police forces in their community, who know the language, the culture, the community and the people and, in most cases, are able to establish a better relationship with them.
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