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For immediate release
May 25, 2021
Treaty One Territory, Winnipeg, MB – Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. (MKO) and the Manitoba RCMP are working together to stop the spread of COVID-19 in First Nation communities across Northern Manitoba by today commencing the roll out to the 26 MKO First Nations of a Protocol relating to the Enforcement and Prosecution of ByLaw(s) adopted pursuant to s. 81 and 85.1 of the Indian Act (“the protocol”).
The Manitoba RCMP, MKO, and Public Prosecution Service of Canada (PPSC) have worked together to develop a protocol that will assist RCMP officers to enforce local COVID-19 bylaws enacted by First Nation communities in Northern Manitoba and for PPSC to conduct the prosecution of bylaw offences, upon their discretion, committed in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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 protocol is signed by an MKO First Nation, the RCMP may enforce bylaws and may investigate offences and may lay charges on behalf of the Government of Canada on an individual who breaks a local COVID-19 bylaw that was enacted by Chief and Council. The PPSC can also, should they so decide, prosecute those persons who have been charged by the RCMP.
“This protocol will provide many of the MKO First Nations an important tool to address the COVID-19 pandemic. The 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 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 protocol to become a reality. We look forward to seeing more support from the RCMP and PPSC when it comes to keeping our communities safe from COVID-19,” 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 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 as they continue their fight against COVID-19.”
“In keeping with our 35-year working relationship with MKO in resolving barriers to self-determination, we are pleased that the 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 of Legal Aid Manitoba.
This arrangement will be in place until September 30, 2021, unless all parties agree to renew the agreement.
For more information:
Melanie Ferris, Communications Officer
Email: [email protected]
RCMP Manitoba Relations Unit
Email: [email protected]