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FSIN calls for widespread Indigenous education to combat racism

Annette Custer declined to speak as the FSIN held a press conference less than a week after she was held down by a security guard outside of a FreshCo store in Saskatoon. Questions about the guards use of force have been raised and First Nations leaders are calling for education to fight systemic racism. Kyle Benning / Global News

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) is calling on the provincial and federal governments to create an anti-racism strategy and to make Indigenous education mandatory to help combat racism.

The organization which represents 74 Saskatchewan First Nations held a press conference on April 20 regarding the video of a security guard detaining an Indigenous woman outside of a Saskatoon FreshCo last week.

Read more: Owner ‘horrified’ after altercation involving Indigenous woman outside his Saskatoon grocery store

“Saskatchewan has a racism problem and whether or not people want to acknowledge that, whether they’re (in) government or wherever they’re sitting within this society, it has to be addressed,” FSIN Vice Chief David Pratt said.

He went on to question whether the security guard’s actions would’ve taken place if she was white.

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Vice Chief Heather Bear added violence against Indigenous women is something the organization continues to see.

“(There) are laws that protect animals that don’t get treated like that in this country,” she said speaking about the video.

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Annette Custer — the woman in the video — was at the press conference.

The 30-year-old mother from Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation declined to make a statement, but the FSIN’s lawyer said she’s still impacted by the incident which took place on April 14.

“I want to make it clear that this was a traumatic experience for Annette and that trauma will impact her for the rest of her life,” Michael Seed said.

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Custer has been charged with theft and assault.

Read more: Saskatoon Tribal Council lands lawyer for woman in FreshCo video

The Saskatoon Police Service (SPS) said it continues to investigate the incident.

The FreshCo store ended its contract with Emergency Security Management (ESM) after the video came to light.

Global News has made multiple attempts to speak with ESM and its parent company Xpera since April 16, but they have not provided any response.

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