Declaration of State of Emergency: Inequitable policing resources in Anishinabek Nation Territory

CURVE LAKE FIRST NATION (June 8, 2023) — Anishinabek Nation Chiefs-in-Assembly have unanimously declared a State of Emergency due to the continual inequitable funding for policing in Anishinabek First Nations. The lack of adequate and efficient resourcing for policing in member First Nations has created a dire situation for this essential service. The decision was made during Day 1 of the Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Assembly on June 7, with Chief Patsy Corbiere of Aundeck Omni Kaning First Nation moving the resolution and seconded by Chief Lloyd Myke of Magnetawan First Nation.

“The declaration of a State of Emergency highlights the urgency and seriousness of the policing crisis in our communities,” states Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Reg Niganobe. “It is essential for Canada to acknowledge and address the systemic barriers and discriminatory practices that hinder the safety and well-being of our citizens. We demand equitable resources and support for our policing services to ensure the security and justice our communities need and deserve.”

The funding agreement for Anishinabek Police Service (APS) and United Chiefs and Councils of Manitoulin (UCCM) Anishnaabe Police expired on March 31, 2023, due to the federal government refusing to renegotiate more equitable agreements. To date, it has refused meaningful negotiations with the APS, which serves the Robinson Superior Treaty, Robinson Huron Treaty, Williams Treaty, and Upper Canada Treaty Communities within the Anishinabek Nation territory. This inveterate underfunding not only poses financial challenges but also threatens fundamental rights, justice, and the overall well-being of Anishinabek communities.

Substantial issues have arisen from the federally-administered First Nations and Inuit Policing Program (FNIPP). Deliberate underfunding and inadequate resourcing of Indigenous community safety initiatives is discriminatory at its core. This has been reinforced by recent legal cases, such as the Dominique v. Public Safety Canada (2022 CHRT 4) ruling by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) and the subsequent affirmation by the Federal Court in Canada (Procureur general) v. Premiere Nation des Pekuakamiulnuatsh (2023, CF 267). The Quebec Court of Appeal has further stated that Canada’s systemic underfunding of Indigenous policing through the FNIPP constitutes a violation of the Honour of the Crown and Canada’s fiduciary duty towards Indigenous peoples.

“The chronic underfunding of Indigenous policing is not only a financial issue, but a matter of fundamental rights and justice,” states Lake Huron Regional Deputy Grand Council Chief Travis Boissoneau. “Canada has a duty to uphold the Honour of the Crown and fulfill its fiduciary responsibilities towards Indigenous peoples. We urge immediate action to rectify this situation and ensure the safety and security of our communities.”

The imminent consequences of these circumstances are dire. APS and other Indigenous policing services are nearing the end of available funding. This impedes their ability to not only provide essential services, but impacts the administration function of operations. Inadequate resources hinder the capacity of FNIPP-funded police services to effectively respond to and address the needs of victims of crime and the safety needs of their communities. This is particularly important in the context of violence against Indigenous women, girls, and Two-Spirit individuals —  this has a dire impact on Anishinabek people.

In light of these critical challenges, the Anishinabek Nation Chiefs-in-Assembly have taken decisive action issuing the following directives:

  • Immediate State of Emergency Declaration: The Anishinabek Nation declares a State of Emergency to compel Canada to recognize and rectify the systemic barriers and discriminatory practices within the funding models of FNIPP. Addressing the chronic underfunding of First Nation policing is vital to mitigate systemic inequalities, reduce crime rates, and ensure the safety and security of Anishinabek Nation communities.
  • Support for Policing Resources: The Anishinabek Nation is mandated to support efforts aimed at restoring resources for safe and equitable policing across Anishinabek territory. Adequate and safe policing services are essential to maintaining community well-being and fostering a sense of security within Anishinabek Nation communities.
  • Advocacy for Essential Police Service Designation: The Anishinabek Nation is directed to advocate for the Essential Police Service Designation through legislation. This designation will guarantee dedicated funding and resources to enable First Nation Police Services to develop and implement a model equitable to that of non-Indigenous police services.
  • Preparation of Litigation Action Plan: If significant progress is not made by August 1, 2023, the Anishinabek Nation will prepare a litigation action plan to ensure the protection of rights and justice for Indigenous communities.
  • Status Update at 2023 Fall Grand Council Assembly: The Anishinabek Nation requests a status update on the progress made in addressing the policing crisis to be provided at the Fall Grand Council Assembly.