GRAND CHIEF STATEMENT TO CHIEFS ON THE NISHNAWBE-ASKI POLICE SERVICE
TAYKWA TAGAMOU NATION (August 9, 2016): Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler delivered the following statement to Chiefs-in-Assembly regarding the Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service (NAPS) during the XXXV Keewaywin Conference today:
“You are all aware that NAPS officers voted overwhelmingly on July 12 in favour of moving towards a legal strike position.
Although this would not occur until at least September, this is of course a matter of urgent concern for NAN. Following the strike vote, I stated that ‘Canada and Ontario must come to the table immediately to address the adequacy of funding and resources for our detachments and our officers. The safety of our communities, officers and the administration of justice in our communities is at stake’.
Along with Board Chair Mike Metatawabin, I also immediately wrote to both the provincial and federal ministers who are in charge of policing issues. We noted that the officers’ concerns were ‘valid and extremely pressing’, and we called on both governments to come to the table to resolve the funding issues. We stated that our officers have been dealing with deplorable conditions for decades, and that the strike vote at this time should hardly be surprising.
I am happy to report that I have since been in contact with political leaders at both levels of government. We have had detailed discussions about the political issues surrounding the strike. Of course, these are entirely separate conversations from the labour relations negotiations. A committee including Chair Metatawabin and Chief of Police Terry Armstrong deal with the labour issues. However, discussions about the overall funding for NAPS are necessarily political, and as Grand Chief of NAN, it is my job to work with our tripartite partners, Canada and Ontario, to obtain essential resources for our police force.
I have therefore reached out to both levels of government, and I want you to know that we have been heard and that productive conversations have taken place. As part of the labour relations process, a conciliation meeting has been scheduled for August 24. However, I can also advise that a meeting of the tripartite partners will also be held, prior to August 24, and I am confident that this meeting will set the parties up to resolve their issues at the conciliation meeting. While I cannot go into details at this stage, I am confident that our officers’ issues will be squarely addressed and resolved respectfully.
We have been fighting for better community safety and better conditions for our officers for years. In 2014, you gave us the mandate to ‘address the fundamentally flawed approach to First Nation policing that causes NAPS to operate as a ‘program’, by taking the steps necessary to secure a legislative base for the police service, consistent with the objectives outlined by NAPS in various submissions’. I am very pleased to report that, consistent with this mandate, we do have a package to present to the Chiefs during in camera sessions at this conference. I look forward to discussing with all of you how we hope to create better conditions for our officers and our communities in the very near future."
The Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service is the largest First Nations police service in Canada and the second largest First Nations police service in North America, employing more than 130 uniform officers and 30 civilians. Based in Thunder Bay, NAPS polices 35 communities across NAN territory, which encompasses nearly two-thirds of the Province of Ontario.
For more information please contact: Tamara Piche, Communications Officer – Nishnawbe Aski Nation
(807) 625-4906 or cell (807) 621-5549 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org
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