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Sask. task group to address on-reserve gaps in First Nations’ law enforcement

Two chiefs have signed an MOU with the Saskatchewan government to address longstanding issues with the enforcement of First Nations’ laws.
Two chiefs have signed an MOU with the Saskatchewan government to address longstanding issues with the enforcement of First Nations’ laws. Devon Latchuk / Global News

One of the two Indigenous chiefs who signed an agreement with the Saskatchewan government on Friday said it’s been difficult to prosecute and enforce laws created by his First Nation.

“This (memorandum of understanding) enables the parties to explore the processes and the potential roles we all play in addressing on-reserve gaps in law enforcement,” said Whitecap Dakota Chief Darcy Bear in a press release.

“Ultimately, our hope is that this agreement will create a path forward to increase public safety and build investor confidence to attract more business onto reserve lands.”

READ MORE: Whitecap Dakota First Nation, Ottawa sign framework agreement for treaty

The province said it signed the MOU with the Muskoday First Nation and Whitecap Dakota First Nation to address longstanding issues with the enforcement of First Nations’ laws on-reserve.

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Government officials said a task group will look at ways the parties can work together to find approaches that tap into existing and potentially new policing, prosecution and judicial mechanisms to ensure these laws are enforceable.

The possibility of community safety officers or peacekeepers on reserve will also be explored by the group.

“Muskoday First Nation has a treaty obligation to keep the peace, and maintain good order,” said Muskoday First Nation Chief Herman Crain in a statement.

“Our community has tried to meet that obligation by enacting a number of Indian Act bylaws and Land Laws … but without a proper system to enforce these laws, it is impossible to uphold such laws and make people accountable. This will help toward building a safe community.”

Bridging the gap in economic reconciliation in Saskatchewan
Bridging the gap in economic reconciliation in Saskatchewan

The task group will begin its work immediately, officials said.

Muskoday First Nation is approximately 140 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon; Whitecap Dakota First Nation is located roughly 30 km south of the city.