Saskatchewan First Nations leaders are looking for ways to restructure policing in their communities.
Poundmaker Cree Nation hosted a meeting to discuss communities setting up their own police forces on March 30.
Chief Duane Antoine said discussions between Poundmaker Cree Nation and the RCMP have reached a critical point.
Even though the community has a few Mounties stationed on the reserve, Antoine said they aren’t visible in the community.
Poundmaker has a Community Tripartite Agreement (CTA) with the RCMP which gives the community access to dedicated police officers.
Even with that in place, Chief Antoine has seen more criminal activity in recent months, particularly drug trafficking.
“When we signed that agreement, I thought those RCMP (officers) were here to stay and patrol on reserve. That’s why that outbreak of drug dealing is here,” Chief Antoine told Global News.
Earlier this month, Poundmaker Cree Nation declared a state of emergency to fight the drug crisis in the community.
Now the community is taking another step to set up an on-reserve police force by hosting its meeting, which included RCMP and the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN).
“We want to do away with the CTA agreements, take that funding and fund our own on-reserve tribal police. That’s the ultimate goal here,” FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron said.
RCMP has been in discussions with Poundmaker since March 17 and said it is committed to addressing community safety concerns.
It added that it welcomes open dialogue with its partners and hopes attending meetings like this one strengthen their relationship.
First Nations leaders from other Saskatchewan communities also attended the meeting and noted their is a fractured relationship with Mounties in their communities as well.
It has Mosquito Grizzly Bear’s Head Lean Man First Nation considering how it can address issues around community policing.
Chief Tanya Aguilar-Antiman said her community doesn’t have a CTA in place, but they’ve had problems with RCMP that serve their region in rural areas around the Battlefords.
“(It’s) very evident (CTAs are) not working. So why would we continue investing in financial resources in something that’s not working?’ she noted.
The FSIN and Poundmaker Cree Nation are looking to schedule a meeting with the federal public safety minister about setting up a tribal police force next week.
Global News reached out to Bill Blair’s office for comment but didn’t receive one before our deadline.