Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc.
For immediate release
June 30th, 2023
Treaty One Territory, Winnipeg, MB – Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. (MKO) and the Manitoba RCMP are working together to enhance health and public safety in First Nation communities across Northern Manitoba by rolling out to the twenty-six MKO First Nations a broader Protocol relating to the Enforcement and Prosecution of By-Law(s) adopted pursuant to s. 81 and 85.1 of the Indian Act.
The broader Protocol being rolled out today establishes a two-year pilot project for the enforcement and prosecution of all First Nation by-laws enacted by the MKO First Nations. This broader Protocol follows a previous Protocol that applied to the enforcement and prosecution of First Nation by-laws applied by the MKO First Nations in response to the COVID pandemic.
The Manitoba RCMP, MKO, and Public Prosecution Service of Canada (PPSC) have worked together to develop a broader Protocol to recognize the responsibility of RCMP officers to enforce local by-laws enacted by First Nation communities in Northern Manitoba and for PPSC to conduct the prosecution of by-law offences committed in relation to First Nation By-laws that are enacted to provide for the health and public safety of First Nations.
All police agencies have a role to play in the enforcement of Indigenous laws. It is a partnership based upon respect and the common goal of safe communities. Additionally, the RCMP participates in extensive community engagement in Indigenous communities that they serve. The purpose of such engagement is to improve dialogue and social interaction between the police and Indigenous communities. Close and frequent engagement also provides an opportunity for the community to contribute to policy-making decisions affecting them.
Once the new broader Protocol is signed by an MKO First Nation, the RCMP will enforce by-laws and may investigate offences and may lay charges on behalf of the Government of Canada on an individual who breaks a local by-law that is enacted by Chief and Council. The PPSC will also, should they so decide, prosecute those persons who have been charged by the RCMP.
“This broader Protocol will provide many of the MKO First Nations an important tool to address objectives for community health and public safety. The broader Protocol is also an important step toward addressing the long-standing problem of the lack of enforcement and prosecution of Indian Act Bylaws on reserves. Today’s roll out of the Protocol is an important step forward in helping to ensure the health and safety of MKO citizens” said MKO Grand Chief Garrison Settee.
“I want to thank the many people working behind the scenes to make this broader Protocol a reality, including the Public Interest Law Centre. I especially want to thank the MKO Chiefs and Councillors and the MKO Executive Council who have advocated for this broader Protocol to become a reality. We look forward to seeing more support from the RCMP and PPSC when it comes to promoting health and public safety in our First Nations,” added Grand Chief Settee.
“This protocol is about keeping communities safe. We’re very thankful for the continued partnership and collaboration with MKO and the strong support received by the PPSC,” said Superintendent Scott McMurchy, Deputy Criminal Operations Officer for the Manitoba RCMP. “By working together, we have developed a new broader protocol that will help our officers to do their jobs more effectively and will no doubt enhance the safety and security of First Nation communities across northern Manitoba.”
“In keeping with our 37-year working relationship with MKO in resolving barriers to self-determination, we are pleased that the broader Protocol has now become operational. We look forward to continuing to support the MKO First Nations in putting the Protocol into effect and in the exercise of their right to self-governance,” shared Byron Williams, Director of the Public Interest Law Centre (PILC) of Legal Aid Manitoba.
This arrangement for a two-year pilot project will be in place until June 30, 2025, unless all parties agree to renew the Protocol.
For more information:
Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak
Email: [email protected]