Courtesy: The Province of Alberta
Alberta’s government is unilaterally funding 15 new police officers for the three First Nations police services in the province.
The Blood Tribe, Tsuut’ina Nation and Lakeshore Regional police services will each be able to hire five new police officers.
Funding for Indigenous police services is usually paid through the First Nations and Inuit Policing Program. Under this federally administered program, 52 per cent of funding is provided by the federal government and 48 per cent comes from the provinces.
The federal government has frozen this program for more than two years as it completes an overhaul. Rather than wait for the federal government to reform the program, Alberta will fund the total cost for 15 new police officers to address the underfunding of the First Nations police services in the province. Alberta is also providing an additional $150,000 to address short-term gaps created by the wait for reforms, along with a recruiting strategy for the new officers.
Alberta’s government has called on the federal government to expedite its review. Alberta would also like to see the current program reopened to allow for increased funding for First Nations police services and to allow for applications from First Nations seeking to establish a new police service.
“Every community in Alberta needs adequate policing resources to ensure the safety and security of residents is protected. With this new funding for more officers, Alberta is stepping up to fill in the federal shortfall and work with our First Nations partners towards a safer province for everyone who calls this land home.”
Tyler Shandro, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General
“I am proud to support more officers for First Nations policing, a change chiefs have asked for from Alberta’s government. Indigenous-led services like these are important for self-determination and reconciliation.”
Rick Wilson, Minister of Indigenous Relations
“I applaud the Government of Alberta for their leadership in funding our police services. Tsuut’ina takes great pride in the professionalism of our police. This funding will ensure that our service will be sustainable into the future and will grow with our community. Albertans should be proud that their provincial government takes community policing seriously. This funding announcement is tangible proof of that. The next step, however, is to legislatively recognize our police services as essential services.”
Chief Roy Whitney, Tsuut’ina Nation
“The Blood Tribe Police Service appreciates the provincial government for recognizing the need to provide additional funding to self-administered Indigenous police services, which will help ensure safer Indigenous communities.”
Brice Iron Shirt, chief of police, Blood Tribe Police Service
“The sole-source funding the province is providing all three Alberta self-administered First Nation police services is clear recognition of their commitment in supporting us in a path towards equity and fairness within the First Nation and Inuit Policing Program. Our Nation’s leadership, community members and officers and staff of our police service are grateful for the leadership and commitment demonstrated by the Government of Alberta with this historic announcement.”
Keith Blake, chief of police, Tsuut’ina Nation Police Service
- Lakeshore Regional Police Service, Blood Tribe Police Service and Tsuut’ina Nation Police Service serve seven First Nation communities and currently have 62 sworn police officers.
- The Blood Tribe Police Service provides policing to the largest First Nation in Canada and is located close to the Canada-U.S. border in southern Alberta.
- The Tsuut’ina Nation Police Service provides policing to Tsuut’ina Nation, located next to Calgary, and Redwood Meadows, a non-Indigenous community.
- The Lakeshore Regional Police Service operates in five First Nations in northern Alberta.
- Sawridge First Nation
- Swan River First Nation
- Driftpile Cree Nation
- Sucker Creek First Nation
- Kapaweno First Nation
Chief Dale Cox (Lakeshore Regional Police)
- The new officers will be phased into the three First Nations policing services over the next four years.
Alberta government’s new Community Policing Grant will help Indigenous and municipal communities develop a business case for their own stand-alone police service or a regional equivalent.
The Community Policing Grant will offer up to $30,000 to Indigenous and municipal communities to assist in preparing a business case outlining local needs, capital requirements and transition considerations.
This grant formalizes funding that government provided in the past but makes it more accessible to all municipalities and Indigenous communities. In 2018, a separate, one-time grant for about the same amount was provided to a First Nation that developed and submitted a business case the Alberta government is now reviewing.
“Communities in Alberta should be served by police services that have a deep-rooted understanding of the surrounding land and people. If Indigenous communities in the province feel they would be better served by an independent police service, we are ready to work alongside them to help achieve their safety and security goals.”
Tyler Shandro, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General
Indigenous communities and municipalities interested in applying for the police service business case grant are invited to submit a written submission to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The First Nations and Inuit Policing Program is a national, federally administered program that funds First Nation police services.
- Under this program, 52 per cent of funding is provided by the federal government and 48 per cent by the provinces.
- Alberta supports the work of the Blood Tribe, Lakeshore and Tsuut’ina Nation police services with annual funding of $6.4 million to this cost-sharing program. Alberta also spends more than $500,000 every year to pay for a crime prevention coordinator for each First Nation police service.
- More than two years ago, the federal government announced that it was going to overhaul this program, designate First Nation policing as an essential service and make more funding available to First Nations. This commitment remains unfulfilled.