Treaty 2 Territory – This week, the Civilian and Review Complaints Commission for the RCMP released a report on the death of Colten Boushie. The report highlighted ongoing systemic racism within the RCMP, discrimination towards the victim’s family, and the negative media press towards the victim Colten Boushie. This is not a surprise to Anishinabek, as systemic racism within the RCMP is rooted in racist legislation, policies and procedures that advances the Canadian agenda. As a result, there is a distained relationship between the RCMP and First Nation people. Prior to 1492, Anishinabek had their own Peacekeeping systems in place that ensured peace and harmony within the nation. Anishinabek Peacekeeping practices are evidence-based as they worked for 1000s of years. A current Anishinaabe Peacekeeping system is needed as it will restore the true role of Peacekeepers as protectors.
The RCMP, formally known as the Northwest Mounted Police, was established in 1873 as a central police force to patrol newly acquired land in western Canada. Soon after the establishment, the Parliament of Canada sent 150 recruits west to Manitoba to assist in their agenda of land possession. The RCMP, founded in 1920, was created to continue enforcing Canada’s goal of land possession. To accomplish this agenda, laws were created that would legalize policies and procedures that were inhuman, harmful, and sometimes lethal. Canada’s legal system calls this “the rule of law”. Stemming back to days to enforcing the Indian Act, Canada used the RCMP to prevent parents from interfering when children were taken to residential school or scooping the children for adoption during the 60’s scoop.
The RCMP have a central training depot in Regina that trains new recruits. This training directs new recruits to enforce the rule of law by all means necessary. The training includes operational conditioning, firearms, and defensive tactics. There is lack of training on cross-cultural awareness, and tools to be culturally responsive and trauma informed. This is evident in the high incarceration rates in Manitoba. Indigenous people represent approximately 80-81% of the inmates incarcerated in Manitoba Correctional Centres. Canada’s outdated laws and policies result in a broken system that promotes hierarchy, power, and control and lacks to action regarding racism.
The relationship between Canada and First Nations is historical and continues to be strained as racism continues to run rampant across this county. This untrusting relationship is evident when looking at the history between the police and Indigenous people including the deaths of Helen Betty Osborne, J.J. Harper, the Starlight tours in Saskatoon, and most recently Eishia Hudson. Sadly, it appears many police officers have internalized the power and control system and have forgotten they swore an oath to be the protectors. To be balanced, there are good officers, and they should not all be painted with the same brush. There needs to be recognition that police officers put their lives at risk and are many join the force with good intentions. However, they work for government that directs them to follow certain policies and procedures to enforce the law.
The Civilian and Review Complaints Commission’s report and findings on Colten Boushie is not surprising to Indigenous people. The Death of Helen Osborne occurred 50 years ago, and the system has changed little to fix these wrongs. The Aboriginal Justice Inquiry (1991) highlighted issues and recommendations regarding policing, but that report continues to sit on shelf collecting dust. It has been over 30 years since the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry (AJI), and the system continues to ignore the report and its recommendations. Sadly, the Calls to Action in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report has collected its first layer of dust and the Calls to Justice in the MMIGW2S have yet to be implemented.
“The report released by the Civilian and Review Complaints Commission for the RCMP is proof that systemic racism continues to exist within the RCMP. It has been 50 years since the death of Helen Betty Osborne, and there has been little progress in fixing the wrongs and addressing the systemic racism that continues to exist within the RCMP and other policing agencies. We are no longer waiting for Canada and the RCMP to address these wrongs. We are asserting our inherent rights and creating our own Peacemaking and Peacekeeping System within FNT2T.”- Grand Chief Eugene Eastman
As a result of federal and provincial government’s failures in providing adequate peacekeeping services and protection, First Nations in the Treaty 2 Territory are no longer are waiting for governments to act. FNT2T are asserting inherent rights and creating an Anishinabek Peacemaking and Peacekeeping system that will implement Anishinabek methodologies, as well as implement the AJI recommendations, the TRC Calls to Action, and the MMIWG2S’s Calls to Justice. As FNT2T moves forward with Peacemaking and Peacekeeping, the FNT2T Councils have expressed support and passed resolutions to create and implement a Peacemaking and Peacekeeping System.
Anishinaabe Peacemaking and Peacekeeping systems, based on seven circles, promotes lateral kindness and equality. Anishinaabe Peacemaking processes will strive to restore Mino-Bimaadiziwin among individuals. Peacekeepers from the Bear Circle will restore the protector role and shift focus from enforcement to assisting. Peacekeepers will be trained in the seven teachings and will follow the teachings in all interactions with the people. The Earth Lodge will train the Peacekeepers to be culturally appropriate and trauma informed. The objectives for FNT2T Peacekeepers will be to protect the nation in a good way so peace and harmony can be restored.
Geetchi Noden Ikwe
Chantell Barker, Peacemaking Keeper
Last modified: March 25, 2021