For Immediate Release

June 6, 2024

Treaty One Territory, Winnipeg, Mb In light of the rising incidents of shoplifting driven by poverty and economic hardship we understand that certain measures need to be made.

While MKO does not condone crime of any kind, it also does not condone the use of force on women by males and certainly not by dragging women to secluded places without the safety of having a witness present.

Grand Chief Garrison Settee emphasizes “It is important to address these situations with sensitivity and care, especially when involving women. While shoplifting is undeniably a crime, it is often a desperate act committed by those facing severe, complex, and deeply rooted difficulties.”

Island Lake Anisininew Okimawin Grand Chief Scott Harper says he is “extremely concerned about what we have seen in the video posted on social media on June 5, 2024, about a woman being dragged away while restrained in handcuffs by two larger men into a room away from witnesses. This aggressive form of dealing with possible shoplifting is extremely concerning.

Simply watching the video is traumatizing to our people.

Our people, particularly our women, have been restrained and forced into unsafe situations for generations now due to Indian Residential Schools, CFS, the justice system, and perpetrators of severe violence. To forcibly bring this woman away from public witnesses adds to the fear and trauma our people experience far too often.

It is our concern that the punishment for people who are stealing to provide for their basic needs is often far more severe, harmful, and at times illegal, than the acts of illegally stealing to survive.”

MKO Grand Chief Garrison Settee stands with Grand Chief Scott Harper and the Anisiniew Nation for the safety of First Nation women and the call for respectful apprehensions involving criminal matters.

To ensure the safety and dignity of all individuals, we urge retailers to adopt the following measures:

 

1.    Respectful Apprehension: Any person apprehended for shoplifting should be treated with respect and dignity. Physical force should be avoided unless absolutely necessary for safety.

 

2.    Witness Present: When a woman is detained for shoplifting, there should always be a female employee or a third-party witness present during any interactions that occur in private spaces.

 

3.    Transparency and Accountability:  Retailers should implement transparent procedures for handling shoplifting incidents, including the use of surveillance cameras in all areas where detained individuals are taken.

 

4.    Training and Awareness: Security personnel and staff should be trained to handle shoplifting incidents with an understanding of the socio-economic factors that may drive such behavior and the importance of humane treatment.

 

5.    Support Services: Where possible, offer information on support services and resources for those struggling with poverty and hardship, as an alternative to punitive measures.

We believe these steps will not only protect vulnerable individuals but also foster a more compassionate and just society.

Grand Chief Settee says “As leaders we are committed to advocating for the fair treatment of all individuals and addressing the root causes of poverty and crime. Together, we can create a community where safety, respect, and compassion are paramount.”

 

For more information:

Naomi Clarke, MKO Communications

Phone: 204-612-1284

Email: [email protected]

Web: https://mkonation.com/

 

Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. (MKO) is a non-profit, political advocacy organization that has represented 26 First Nation communities in Manitoba’s North since 1981. The MKO represents more than 72,000 First Nations people.

 

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