The situation that lead to a hold and secure at the Ponoka Secondary Campus (PSC) on Feb. 28, was the result of a series of events brought to a boiling point, starting with an altercation in the early hours on Feb. 22 on a Ponoka street.
Ponoka RCMP confirmed in a Feb. 28 news release that the arrest of 12 males on Feb. 22, and the further arrest of four males on Feb. 28 was related to the hold and secure at PSC.
According to the release, in the morning of Feb. 22, Ponoka RCMP were called to a disturbance in the 4800 block of 46 Street in Ponoka.
Two groups of teen-aged boys had met in the street and an altercation ensued, resulting in the arrest of 12 males.
Three adult males and two youths were charged with offences including mischief, uttering threats, and possession of a weapon.
All five males were released from custody with conditions and will appear in Alberta Provincial Court on April 17, 2020.
The investigation continued and on February 28, four additional arrests were made. These arrests saw three adult males and one male youth charged with mischief, uttering threats and possession of a weapon.
One adult male is currently being sought by police in relation to this investigation.
The names of those arrested cannot be released at this time, as the Court’s Information has not yet been sworn, and the names of the youth will not be released under provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
RCMP K Division confirmed to Ponoka News on Feb. 28 that the Ponoka RCMP had received a complaint about two racist videos circulating online.
The RCMP release states:
“During the course of this investigation Ponoka RCMP received a complaint about two videos appearing on social media. It is believed that one of the videos is related to this current incident, while the second one does not appear to be related.
“The social media fall out from this overall situation has been unfortunate and resulted in some people not involved in either investigation to become targets of harassment.
“Police are asking people to refrain from vigilante actions and remind that any comments made or actions taken that are criminal in nature will be investigated accordingly.”
A widely distributed public Facebook post by a person claiming to have witnessed the event on Feb. 22, gives an additional perspective of the events.
The Facebook user alleges the 12 persons arrested on Feb. 22 were all members of Maskwacis. According to the post, they were at a house in Ponoka when individuals approached the residence and started making racial comments. Allegedly, the harassment continued until things came to a head at the school on Friday.
A press release from Samson Cree Nation Chief Vernon Saddleback later on Feb. 28 echoed those of Ermineskin Cree Nation Chief Craig Makinaw.
Saddleback called the videos “disturbing,” and said the Maskwacis Cree has a long history of working to redress discrimination.
“Despite the concerted effort to protect Indigenous peoples from the devastating affects of racism and discrimination, we still experience racism on a daily basis … this is a time for serious reflection.”
Saddleback goes on to say while Samson Cree Nation will not tolerate racial discrimination, it also will not condone retaliation.
“We remain committed to our Treaty promises of peaceful coexistence.”
An awareness gathering was held on March 1, at the Fas Gas in Maskwacis.
Anyone with information regarding this investigation is asked to contact the Ponoka RCMP at 403-783-4472 or your local police. If you wish to remain anonymous, you can contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS), online at www.P3Tips.com (http://www.p3tips.com) or by using the “P3 Tips” app available through the Apple App or Google Play Store.