INSTABILITY IN FIRST NATIONS POLICING IN ONTARIO LEADING TO LETHAL RESPONSES IN WAKE OF RECENT POLICE SHOOTING IN ONEIDA NATION OF THE THAMES

August 12, 2013 6:12 pm
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Toronto, ON (August 12, 2013) The Chiefs of Ontario are awaiting information on the circumstances that led to shots being fired by a member of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) in the Oneida Nation of the Thames on the Saturday morning of the August long weekend. Gunfire was exchanged and a young man was shot. The Special Investigations Unit is currently investigating. Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy expressed his support to the family and community in this difficult time.

Chief Joel Abram of the Oneida Nation of the Thames stated, “The inherent weaknesses in the Ontario First Nations Policing Agreement (OFNPA) our policing falls under, I believe, was a contributing factor to the environment leading up to the unfortunate events in Oneida.  If we had adequate resources and control of such, this event might not have happened.”

The incident at Ipperwash brought to the forefront a similar lethal response against members of the Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation which lead to the shooting death of an unarmed man, Dudley George, by an OPP officer.  The Report of the Ipperwash Inquiry contained within it several recommendations that aim to reconcile relations between First Nations and the Government of Ontario and it is vital that both partners continue, yet with more and equal strength, on a path toward reconciliation. In addition, Canada plays a large role in the policing issue for First Nations as do the provinces.  The Chiefs of Ontario are working in partnership with the Assembly of First Nations to secure a meeting with the newly-appointed Minister of Public Safety Steven Blaney to discuss the urgent policing needs of First Nations.

Beardy and Abram also pointed to the recent video showing 24 year old Norbert Mestenapeo of Unamen Shipu, QC being beaten by two Quebec police officers and two other separate shooting incidents involving First Nation individuals in Pigeon Lake First Nation and Grande Cache, in Alberta as a very concerning growing line of incidents demonstrating the need to support and promote First Nations police services.  Regional Chief Beardy stated, “Governments of the Province of Ontario and Canada, we must address First Nations policing cooperatively and urgently, lethal responses like the incident in Oneida Nation of the Thames will only continue if we cannot make First Nations policing a priority.”             
 

The Chiefs of Ontario is a political forum, and a secretariat for collective decision making, action, and advocacy for the 133 First Nation communities located within the boundaries of the province of Ontario, Canada.

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For more information, please contact:

Andre Morriseau, Media Relations Officer,

Phone: 416-580-9320

Email: andre@coo.org

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