OTTAWA, ON, July 3, 2023 /CNW/ – The British Columbia Assembly of First Nations (BCAFN) and The Assembly of First Nations Quebec – Labrador (AFNQL) is pleased with the ruling of the Federal Court on a motion filed by Indigenous Police Chiefs of Ontario (IPCO). IPCO filed a motion requesting emergency relief and an order requiring Public Safety Canada (PSC) to suspend application of the discriminatory Terms and Conditions of funding under the First Nations and Inuit Policing Program (“FNIPP”). The AFN intervened in IPCO’s Federal Court motion and will continue advocating for policing to be recognized as an essential service, respecting and upholding First Nations inherent and Treaty rights to self-government and policing.
On June 30, 2023 Justice Denis Gascon ruled that PSC must immediately flow funds to Treaty #3 Police Services (T3PS), UCCM Anishinaabe Police Service, and the Anishinabek Police Service (APS) for a 12-month period. All three police services had been without funding since March 31, 2023, jeopardizing the health and safety of 45 First Nations, affecting approximately 30,000 individuals in the impacted communities.
In the landmark ruling, Justice Gascon also found that the case was an exceptional situation where it is just and equitable for the Court to intervene and to exercise its discretion in IPCO’s favour to prevent the harm that will be caused to the public security and personal safety of Indigenous people residing in the communities serviced by T3PS, APS, and UCCM. Importantly, Justice Gascon stated that the case raises concerns about the conduct of PSC in its dealings with the Three Police Services and its failure to be guided by the overarching principles of reconciliation and the honour of the Crown. These principles required more diligence and attention from PSC in dealing with funding agreements with the Three Police Services. PSC did not consistently follow its duty to act honourably and in the spirit of reconciliation as it kept insisting on the impossibility to negotiate the Terms and Conditions and the prohibitions they contain.
“The ruling from Justice Gascon is a positive development,” said AFN Quebec and Labrador Regional Chief Ghislain Picard. “The court was clear that PSC is not constrained by its own funding policies or any ongoing processes; instead, it is choosing to underfund and apply discriminatory policies to First Nations policing, which is unacceptable. While I welcome the results of this federal court motion, it should never have reached this point. Minister of Public Safety Marco Mendicino and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau must cease endangering the safety of First Nations people across the country. PSC officials must fully commit to upholding First Nations inherent, Treaty and constitutional rights and recognize First Nations policing as the essential service it truly is.”
“The Court has found that PSC officials’ actions are not in keeping with the principles of the honour of the Crown and they are jeopardizing the safety and wellbeing of First Nations across the country. This decision exemplifies why First Nations policing must be made an essential service. It’s time to stop making excuses and fund First Nations Policing in an equitable manner,” said BCAFN Regional Chief Terry Teegee.
SOURCE Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador