Siksika Nation announces agreement for establishment of local police service 

By John Watson

 Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Province of Alberta announced on Sept. 23 that an agreement between the province, Government of Canada and Siksika Nation had been reached, allowing the Nation to take over local policing responsibilities from the RCMP.

The deal, for which a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed in July (announced on July 18) establishes the first self-administered First Nations police service in 14 years.

Siksika Nation Chief, Ouray Crowfoot, said policing and security are foundational for any community and is essential for local development.

“This has been a long time coming ? just because we have made the announcement, our police service is not going to jump back right away,” said Crowfoot. “We are still working closely with the RCMP and as we build our capacity, probably in the next year or two, we will have a full service.”

Siksika Nation previously facilitated its own law enforcement service, which operated between 1992 and 2002, under a 10-year agreement between the Nation, the federal government and the province.

The original agreement was not renewed at the time of its expiration due to a lack of available funding.

“Alberta’s government unequivocally supports self-administered First Nations policing. With nearly 8,000 residents and one of the largest geographic footprints of any First Nation in Canada, the Siksika Nation is ready and prepared to take this critical step and become the fourth self-administered First Nation police service in Alberta,” said Tyler Shandro, minister of justice and solicitor general for the province.

Since the closure of the local police service, the RCMP detachments in Gleichen and Strathmore have been responsible for policing Siksika Nation.

When the local service re-establishes in full, Crowfoot said he estimates roughly 25 officers will be on staff.

“We would also be lending a hand to surrounding municipalities and I think that we have shown that in the work that we have done, trying to do our outreach,” added Crowfoot. “It’s not just about a safer Siksika. A safer Siksika equals safer surrounding communities, such as a safer Strathmore, a safer Calgary and a safer Alberta.”

Siksika Nation had previously explored the idea of re-establishing their local police service in 2018, for which a third-party firm had been hired to conduct a feasibility study.

The study, which was funded in part by the province, lead to the MoU which focussed on developing a funding framework for Siksika Nation’s police service.

Once established, the local police service will aim to noticeably reduce response and reaction time to calls for aid within, as well as outside, the nation.

For the time being, a satellite station has been purchased by Siksika which is going to be leased by the RCMP. Once the Nation’s service is fully operational, Crowfoot intends for it to take over the lease and have the facility operate as the service’s base of operations.

Until Siksika Nation’s service is established, it will be working closely with the RCMP for law enforcement as well as officer training.

According to the province, Siksika Nation and the Alberta Government will be working collaboratively to determine a clear operational timeline, as well as to negotiate a transition agreement with the Government of Canada.

 John Watson is a  Local Journalism Initiative Reporter with the STRATHMORE TIMES. The LJI is federally funded.

 

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