Saskatchewan Indigenous group wants province to rethink rural crime task force
SASKATOON — The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations is asking the province to reconsider formation of a rural crime task force.
August 24, 2017 By The Canadian Press
Vice-chief Heather Bear has told CKOM Radio in Saskatoon that the plan to arm traffic officers and give more power to conservation officers will create more problems than it solves.
The rural crime team is in response to a committee’s finding that rural residents are defending themselves in any way they feel necessary because they don’t feel police are responding quickly enough to crime calls.
Bear is criticizing the government for not consulting Indigenous organizations on the task force, even though it could end up targeting First Nations populations.
She says arming officers without proper training could lead to more violence and make situations more dangerous for Indigenous people.
The vice-chief notes that despite what she says is over-representation of aboriginals in prison, crime rates aren’t going down.
“I worry about people making more mistakes,” she said. “You’re just giving more authority over people ? there are already enough of our people in jails.”
She added that the $5.9 million being spent would be better used on initiatives to prevent crime, rather than react to it.
Bear said poverty and a lack of activity options on reserves has made youth more desperate, but investing in their future could pull them away from crime.
“Can’t you put more money into recreational centres, rather than putting more money into training people to use guns?”
The problem of rural crime was magnified after last August’s shooting of Colten Boushie from the Red Pheasant First Nation on a farm near Biggar, Sask.
Bear said the task force does nothing to relieve racial tensions, which flared after the shooting.
“It could create more violence,” she said.
News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. 2017
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