Aboriginal Policing Update 2008

Volume 2, No 1

Table of contents

Membertou Welcomes Regional Police

Doug MacKenzie, Cape Breton Post

On November 30th, 2007, the Membertou Band hosted a formal ceremony at the Membertou Trade and Convention Centre to welcome the Cape Breton Regional Police Service as the new policing service provider for the Membertou Band.

Under the previous First Nations Policing Program's Community Tripartite Agreement, the RCMP had been the service provider. In June of 2007, the Council voted to change service providers. Discussions took place among the Membertou Band, the Province of Nova Scotia, the Cape Breton Regional Police and the federal government. An agreement was implemented in Membertou following the withdrawal of the RCMP in the fall of 2007.

Under the previous policing agreement, the federal and provincial funding allowed for three members to police the community. Under the new agreement, with the same amount of funding, a Membertou Division was created with seven members dedicated to the Membertou community.

A story from the Cape Breton Post provides highlights.

Regional Police
From left, Const. A.J. MacIsaac, Const. Delton MacDonald, Cape Breton Regional Police Chief Edgar MacLeod, Membertou Chief Terry Paul, Const. Kenny Routledge, Const. Tamara Christmas and Sgt. Barry Gordon pose at a special ceremony welcoming the Cape Breton Regional Police Service to the community of Membertou, Friday at the Membertou Trade & Convention Centre. Gordon will head up the Membertou Division which includes MacIsaac, MacDonald, Routledge, Christmas, as well as Const. Joe Farrell and Const. Mike Abraham. Photo credit: Doug MacKenzie - Cape Breton Post.

SYDNEY - A new era in community policing kicked off Friday as Membertou welcomed the Cape Breton Regional Police Service with a ceremony at the Membertou Trade & Convention Centre.

The newly formed seven-person Membertou division takes over for the RCMP who handled policing in the First Nations community for the last several years.

"It's a very important day for Membertou," said Chief Terry Paul. "It's a new police service, but it's a service that has been with us ever since we've been a community. There have been a lot of positive things with the Cape Breton Regional Police and we like how they do things and we've been able to develop a good relationship with them.

"We feel very comfortable and optimistic about the future of policing in Membertou."

Paul's sentiments were echoed by Mayor John Morgan of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, who said the symbolic importance of the welcoming was a great sign for the community which has experienced problems in the past.

"In the past there has been a difficult history there through the Donald Marshall wrongful conviction and certainly I think for many years we saw some troubled times in terms of relationships between the Mi'kmaq community and the municipality and its police force.

"What we see today is, I hope, symbolic of the transition from that time to a modern community which values greatly the multicultural element of our community and values all of its people."

Both Paul and Morgan said they were pleased with the final five-year agreement which was negotiated.

Sgt. Barry Gordon will head up the Membertou Division and it's a challenge the 33-year veteran is looking forward to.

"We will do an excellent job," said Gordon. "We will work very hard and we'll certainly work with the community to do a report card on ourselves to see where our strong points are and where our weak points are and work together to give the best service that you can possibly receive in this country."

Originally published in the Cape Breton Post in November, 2007. Reprinted with permission of the Cape Breton Post.

Program Warns Teens About Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault

Report from the Anishinabek Police Service with files from Stacey Musgrove

Anishinabec Police Service

The Anishinabek Police Service hired a Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault (DFSA) researcher in September 2007 after it noticed that more and more of the cases of sexual assault reported to the Service involved indications that drugs were being used to facilitate the crimes. Stacey Musgrove's job was to gather research and develop presentations on the issue to deliver to high school students and adults in First Nation communities.

The project resulted in the production of a CD with two PowerPoint presentations complete with lesson plans: one designed to be used in high schools and one for adult audiences. The program reinforces the concept that teens are especially vulnerable and must be aware of the dangers relating to DFSA.

With Musgrove's help, the Anishinabek Police Service gathered research that clearly identified there is an increasing danger to young women who are becoming victims of drug facilitated sexual assault (DFSA). Sources of research included the Sault Ste. Marie Sexual Assault Care Centre, the Ottawa Police and Statistics Canada. As a result of the research, the Anishinabek Police Service decided to apply for a grant to develop a program aimed at providing information to teens in First Nations communities as well as to their parents.

The project is titled "When You Can't Say NO" and was funded by the Ministry of the Attorney General, Ontario Victim Services Secretariat. The Anishinabek Police Service itself is jointly funded by Canada under the First Nations Policing Policy and the province of Ontario on a 52%-48% basis respectively, to provide policing services to a population of almost 9000 people in 16 communities in Ontario.

The high school presentation focuses on the dangers of DFSA, and information including the most common drugs used, the typical DFSA scenario, ways to keep safe, where to seek help if you become a victim and some of the issues that arise in investigations. While much of the information in the adult/parent presentation is similar to the high school presentation, the focus is on signs to look for that your child may have been the victim of a DFSA and how to get help.

A First Nation specific component in the presentations touches on sexual stereotypes of Aboriginal women, where the stereotypes come from, and some general Canadian sexual assault statistics versus the Aboriginal sexual assault statistics.

The DFSA researcher visited each community that falls within the Anishinabek Police Service (16 First Nation communities) to deliver the presentations to high school students and adults.

Stacey said in a report, "The presentations were well received, and the students were all very receptive to the information presented. The presentations generated many great discussions and questions."

Musgrove also found through an anonymous questionnaire provided to the students prior to each presentation, that the students had very little or no knowledge at all of what DFSA is. Stacey reported, "This lack of knowledge is not surprising considering there is not a lot of existing information about DFSA, especially in First Nation communities."

Research on DFSA

Stacey Musgrove gathered research on DFSA for the purpose of the presentations. She found that since the 1990s, there have been increasing anecdotal reports in Canada in the scholarly and popular press of sexual assault cases in which the assailant has deliberately drugged the victim (Ledray 1996; Will 1997). Alcohol has historically been the most common substance implicated in the commission of sexual assault (Mullins 1999; Slaughter 2000). However, the number of unconfirmed reports have been growing of prescription and non-prescription drugs being surreptitiously used by assailants to induce disinhibition and amnesia on the part of their victims to facilitate rape (Anglin, Spears & Hutson 1997; ElSohly & Salamone 1999; Jamieson 2001; Schwartz & Weaver 1998; Waltzman 1999; Weir 2001).

In the research, a DFSA case was defined as any individual who self-reported a suspicion of having been drugged, unexplained anterograde amnesia (affecting memories of a period immediately following a shock or seizure), and/or other evidence that suggested to the attending examiner that deliberate drugging might have been involved. Overall, since the 1990s, 172 (12%) of sexual assaults in Canada were identified as suspected DFSAs. The rate of suspected DFSAs in 1999 was more than double that in the preceding six years.

In one study, McGregor et al. (in press) identified cases of DFSA by reviewing 1,594 sexual assault cases seen at BC Women's Sexual Assault Service between 1993 and 2002. The aim of this follow-up study was to calculate age-specific annual incidence rates of DFSA and to determine if and how these were changing over time. Overall, the study demonstrated that the incidence of hospital-reported DFSA has shown a marked and continuing increase since 1999 and that young women in their teens are particularly vulnerable to this form of sexual assault.

Statistics Canada reports the following statistics relating to sexual assaults against Aboriginal women:

Copies of the program CD containing the two PowerPoint presentations and lesson plans on DFSA are available for other police services by contacting the Anishinabek Police Service at 705-946-2539.

Assistant Deputy Minister and Honoured Guests Attend Blessing of a Spiritual Retreat

Fiona Sutherland, Research Officer, Aboriginal Policing Directorate

In the fall of 2007, a ceremony took place to bless the Elders' Room at Public Safety Canada, a spiritual retreat for all employees. The ceremony was led by Harley Crowshoe, Regional Manager for Alberta and a Ceremonialist of Blackfoot ancestry who is highly knowledgeable in First Nations spirituality.>

The blessing ceremony was attended by Aboriginal Policing Directorate (APD) headquarters staff and many visiting staff from the regions. Chantal Bernier, Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM) for Community Safety and Partnerships Branch was also present, and brought a gift of tobacco for the blessing ceremony.

In the summer of 2007, APD took over the care of the Elders' Room from another unit that had moved to a different location. The blessing ceremony was held to mark the occasion and to re-dedicate the room.

Since the blessing ceremony was the first opportunity for many staff to participate in a traditional Aboriginal smudging (blessing), Mr. Crowshoe shared his teachings about the ritual. He discussed the four sacred plants and also the spiritual significance of the eagle feather for Aboriginal people.


Elders Room
A table bears the items that were used during the blessing ceremony of the Elders' Room.

Beautiful gifts have been loaned or given to the room to add to its cultural richness and traditional atmosphere. In addition to the tobacco that Ms. Bernier offered as a gift for the blessing ceremony, she also donated a number of other items, including a dream catcher and coloured pearl pendant that had been given to her by the Blood Tribe of Alberta in her capacity as an ADM previously responsible for socio-economic development at Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. Of her experience visiting the community, Ms. Bernier said "We had all been so sincere and so open in our exchanges, that we had spontaneously established a relationship of trust. I learned that absolute honesty is the only real partnership strategy." She went on to say that the gifts donated to the Elders' Room, "are there to keep this wonderful memory."

George McBeth, a former Métis staff member of APD also donated a number of items. Those items included a Métis sash given to him in his earlier career as the Executive Director of the Métis Addiction Council of Saskatchewan to welcome him and remind him of his duties in his new role at that time. Mr. McBeth said that he has worn the sash proudly on many occasions while representing the Métis Nation of Saskatchewan. He said, "The sash has always reminded me of who I am and where my place is in the world."

An eagle feather was also given to APD from the Blackfoot people to be used in the Elders' Room for ceremonial purposes such as smudging and cleansing and also for use during the sacred circle ceremonies (talking circles). The eagle feather is highly revered and considered very sacred within First Nation tradition, culture and spirituality.

Where possible, each gift has been placed symbolically on the wall that corresponds to the direction from which it came. For example, another item donated by Mr. McBeth is an eagle feather carved out of cedar wood that came from the west coast of Canada. As such, it is hung on the western wall of the Elders' Room. For many Aboriginal people, these directions also correspond to the circle of the medicine wheel, representing wholeness and unity - qualities the room is able to impart to individuals who make use of the space. The eagle feather is also a symbol of these qualities. Therefore, it is appropriate that the Elders' Room will be used for the purpose of creating a safe and open environment, where people can get to know one another better and gain a deeper understanding of each other's culture and heritage.

Guardian of the Elders' Room

Murielle Boucher-Lalonde, an APD staff person and a Métis, has been entrusted as the guardian of the Elders' Room. The guardianship role involves ensuring that the room is respected and not misused. The guardian also ensures that the room is stocked with the sacred plants required for the smudging of potential visitors. Most importantly though, Ms. Boucher-Lalonde encourages staff and visitors to make use of the room, and she promotes the understanding that everyone is welcome to use the space for personal reflection, prayer, meditation and meetings.

Ms. Boucher-Lalonde also hopes that a visit to the Elders' Room can be included as part of the orientation session for new employees of Public Safety Canada. She says, "It would help to foster the growth of partnerships between the Department and Canada's Aboriginal peoples to jointly work towards building safer communities across the country."

Responsibility for the Elders' Room is shared between all sections of the Community Safety and Partnerships Branch. It is equipped with its own ventilation system. It is open for use by all employees and visitors on the 11th floor of 269 Laurier Avenue West, Ottawa.

Aboriginal Values in Policing, Law and Justice

Aboriginal Policing Directorate staff

Siksika Heritage Centre
Dr. Brendan Myers, a researcher from the University of Guelph hired by the APD, visited the Siksika Heritage Centre, a conference facility and museum on the Siksika Nation reserve. He toured the facility, met with a member of the Siksika Band Council, and learned about Blackfoot history and culture.

The report "Aboriginal Values in Policing, Law and Justice" prepared by University of Guelph researcher Dr. Brendan Myers, for the Aboriginal Policing Directorate, presents a concise description of Aboriginal people's values in relation to police work, law and order, and justice. Its purpose is to contribute to the ongoing evaluation of police procedure and policy, not only for the sake of preventing crime, but also in the hope that Aboriginal people will some day benefit from police services that make better sense to them. The author asks six primary questions:

The author acknowledges that there is no universal, all-encompassing Aboriginal experience of life and that there is wide and rich diversity between many Aboriginal world views. However, he argues that there are many general trends in Aboriginal culture, and that there is fairly consistent agreement concerning the basis and content of Aboriginal laws and values.

Research findings

As such, the findings are as follows: Research showed that almost all Aboriginal values are expressed in spiritual terms. Indeed, it is the spiritual element which makes Aboriginal values distinct and unique and sometimes difficult for Canadian governments to understand. The author argues that Aboriginal culture simply cannot be understood apart from its spiritual foundation. The importance of spirituality to Aboriginal people is reflected in the fact that the four largest armed stand-offs of the 1990s were conflicts over sacred places.

Dr. Myers found that the basic logic of Aboriginal spirituality is ethical in nature. It may be described as the claim that everything possesses a spirit, and that all things participate in various dynamic relationships with all life on earth through the spirit. These relationships generate duties of moral responsibility, chief of which is the duty of respect. In other words, since all things possess a spirit, all things therefore deserve respect. This point is surprisingly relevant to police procedure and to justice. It implies that everyone involved in some incident, including offenders, deserves respect.

Moreover, the author also found that the logic and vocabulary of Aboriginal people's values, including their spiritual values, closely follows the logic and vocabulary known to western-tradition philosophers as "virtue ethics." This is a system of ethical thinking in which the development of excellent character matters more than upholding laws. The value of respect, in this way, is linked to the quality of a person's character and is less like an impersonal duty.

The author's research found that Elders have an especially esteemed place in Aboriginal culture and in the activities involved in peacekeeping and healing, because they act as teachers and role-models of Aboriginal virtue. Dr. Myers argues that the logic and vocabulary of virtue is the means by which Canadians may come to a greater understanding and appreciation of Aboriginal culture and thought.

The author found that Aboriginal people see things in a much more holistic way than do most Canadians. Policing and justice, for instance, are not two separate activities but merely different facets of the same social activity. Indeed the words they prefer to use to describe these activities are peacekeeping and healing. The vocabulary alone already suggests a less aggressive, more all-encompassing way of doing things. Similarly, the sphere of the moral and the sphere of the legal are not strictly separated in the Aboriginal world view. This holistic understanding makes it impossible to discuss law and peacekeeping without at the same time also discussing justice.

Describing this holistic approach to virtues and values has proven challenging. However, the author proposes a five-step "logic" of Aboriginal values which would hopefully be at least recognizable to Aboriginal people from across Canada, and also intelligible to non-Aboriginal Canadians. The five steps are:


The report's final chapter, entitled "What Should Canada Do?" describes various recommendations for change. It covers issues such as alternatives to arrest and detention and the protocol for a police officer to follow when entering a sacred place. A key recommendation relates to co-operation between different government departments, between federal and provincial governments and between the Government of Canada and Aboriginal people.

Dr. Myers suggests that many of the things which need to be done to reduce crime and promote peace are things that a police service alone cannot do. A police service is not likely to be in a position to heal someone of a substance addiction, for instance. Nor is it in a position to resolve outstanding political grievances such as land claims. Therefore the author's primary recommendation is for increased co-operation between all stakeholders and agencies that are in any way involved in Aboriginal affairs.

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Aboriginal Policing Directorate

The Aboriginal Policing Directorate forms part of Public Safety Canada. The Directorate works with First Nations communities, provincial/territorial governments and other law enforcement partners to implement the First Nations Policing Policy and Program. The Policy was developed in 1991 to provide Aboriginal communities with policing arrangements that respect their cultures and ways of life.

There are now approximately 400 Aboriginal communities in Canada with dedicated police services employing 1,231 police officers. Some of the services are administered by First Nations communities, while others are managed through the RCMP.

Aboriginal Policing Directorate Contacts

Mary Donaghy, Director General - 613-990-2666

Policy and Coordination
Annie LeBlanc, Director - 613-991-4762

Operations - Ottawa
François deLéséleuc, Senior Director - 613-990-8434
Ray Levesque, Manager (Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta) - 613-998-3909
Shammi Sandhu, Manager (Ontario, Atlantic and British Columbia) - 613-990-8372

Operations - Regional Offices
Terry Bedard, A/Regional Manager, British Columbia and Yukon - 604-666-5308
Harley Crowshoe, Regional Manager (Alberta) - 403-292-8858
Jim Greyeyes, Regional Manager (Saskatchewan) - 306-975-5129
Iris Griffin, A/Regional Manager (Manitoba) - 204-983-4426
Maryse Picard, Regional Manager (Québec) - 418-840-1828
Kathy Magladry, Regional Manager (Atlantique) - 613-991-9348

Aboriginal Policing Update

The Aboriginal Policing Update is intended to inform readers of recent developments in Aboriginal policing, innovative programs, success stories, research and funding.

Submissions are Welcome

We encourage readers to contribute articles about their innovative community projects and success stories related to Aboriginal policing. Please contact us to discuss ideas and deadlines for the next issue.


Aboriginal Policing Directorate

For media enquiries only
Tel.: 613-991-0657

Call for Articles

Is there something interesting happening in your community or police service? New initiatives? Important events? We encourage you to contribute articles and tips on stories related to Aboriginal policing. Please contact us to discuss ideas and deadlines for the next issue.

Please contact:
Aboriginal Policing Directorate
Tel.: 613-991-5723

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