OTTAWA – As calls for police reform gain momentum across the country, Indigenous Traditional Governances, First Nation, Métis, and Inuit leadership must be at the decision-making tables.
“Indigenous people are disproportionately targeted by police in Canada,” said Green Party Interim Leader Jo-Ann Roberts. “Prime Minister Trudeau’s promise last month to take “strong, bold’’ actions to address systemic racism in policing is a step in the right direction. However, it is absolutely imperative that representatives from Indigenous Traditional Governances, First Nation, Métis and Inuit communities be included in all decision making during such negotiations.”
Chiefs from the Mi’kmaq and Wolastoq nations have come together with Traditional Wabanaki Grandmothers and Wolastoqey Grand Council from Wabanaki Homeland to call for an in-depth public inquiry on the recent deaths of Chantel Moore and Rodney Levi at the hands of police and to reopen the 2018 case of Brady Francis, a member of Elsipogtog First Nation who was killed in a hit-and-run. The driver was acquitted.
Jenica Atwin, whose riding of Fredericton exists on Wabanaki territory, points to a recent proposal, “Tables of Change”, issued by Wolastoqewi-Grand Chief spasaqsit possesom and Grandmothers from the Wabanaki territory as a guiding example of a path forward.
“Tables of Change calls for measures that would assure a transparent, respectful and honest partnership during any negotiations on police reform,” said Ms. Atwin. “It’s crucial to have individuals present at any such negotiations who have faced racism, gender inequality and discrimination. If we are serious as a country about reconciliation, about UNDRIP, about implementing the recommendations put forth by the National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG), and on reforming law enforcement agencies, then we need to ensure that leaders and elders from Indigenous peoples have a seat at the table.”
Ms. Roberts noted that far too many lives have already been lost. “We are at a turning point in confronting racial bias, systemic racism and outmoded colonial structures in this country. We can no longer ignore that which is staring us in the face. The people impacted the most by police violence must have a hand in crafting solutions. The time to act is now.”
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