FSIN backs out of agreement with Saskatchewan RCMP after trespassing allegations

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WATCH ABOVE: The FSIN is not satisfied with certain RCMP detachments. – Apr 25, 2019

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) won’t sign a relationship-affirming pact with Saskatchewan RCMP after Mounties failed to properly investigate a trespassing complaint, according to the FSIN’s chief.

Chief Bobby Cameron said the lack of police response to an evicted farmer entering Ochapowace First Nation lands this month is an example of First Nations being disrespected.

READ MORE: Mounties failed to properly investigate trespass complaints on First Nation: Sask. RCMP

“[First Nations] laws and bylaws are not being fulfilled as they should be,” Cameron said.
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The memorandum of understanding between the FSIN and RCMP was to be signed sometime this year, according to the FSIN chief. The agreement would include themes of communication and relationship building, he said.

“Right now, we’re not going to sign it because we’re not satisfied with the outcomes of certain RCMP detachments,” Cameron said.

According to the FSIN and Ochapowace leadership, a non-Indigenous farmer evicted from the reserve for unpaid rent was seen there last week.

Ochapowace Chief Margaret Bear said the man’s son was trying to harvest crops on the land, and when staff approached his truck, a gun was visible in the vehicle.

Staff from the community called RCMP, but officers didn’t immediately respond.

READ MORE: Indigenous Nations federation threatens court action over hunting rights

On Thursday, the service said it is committed to working with the FSIN and “all Indigenous people in Saskatchewan regardless of the status or existence of MOUs.

“We will continue to work hard to strengthen our relationships with all the communities we serve with the end goal of safer communities for all Saskatchewan residents,” the statement said.

An earlier RCMP statement said the police agency didn’t follow all required investigative steps.

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“As a result of our review, we will be providing guidance to all our officers in an effort to prevent this from happening in the future. We have advised the FSIN of the results of our preliminary review and the steps we will be taking to reduce the likelihood of this happening again,” the RCMP stated.

In an interview with 650 CKOM, area farmer Richard Cunday said he’s been renting multiple parcels of land from Ochapowace First Nation for roughly 35 years.

Cunday acknowledged he owed the First Nation a $24,000 rent payment dating back to 2018.

The farmer said when he went to pay the balance in late March, he was told the land had already been leased out to another person. However, he still had soybeans to be harvested on the land.

“We said ‘well, we can’t pay the final rent payment for 2018 without confirmation that we can harvest the beans,’” Cunday said, adding the First Nation offered him “no guarantees.”

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Cunday said provincial law allowed him to be on the land until mid-May to complete harvest. The new renters, he said, gave him permission to finish the work.

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Owen Cunday, Richard’s son, said he approached the Ochapowace staff members’ vehicle last week, not the other way around. He stated his gun was visible, but 50 feet away.

Ochapowace First Nation is roughly 160 kilometres east of Regina.

-With files from The Canadian Press

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