The Samson Cree Nation is making a bid to bring indigenous policing into Maskwacis.
Samson Coun. Kirk Buffalo, along with Luci Johnson, met with Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley at the Alberta Legislature last week to present their proposal to have a First Nations community police force.
In an interview Buffalo said the violence in the community is so high that he felt the need to take action. “We’ve been in the news numerous times and to me it’s a red flag to say something is wrong.”
He asked how many drive-by shootings or suicides does it take for a community to wake up? The meeting with the minister was to try to look at another option.
“More officers are not the answer,” he stated.
Currently in Maskwacis there are 42 Mounties — 30 regular officers and 12 community officers — and what Buffalo hopes to see is those 12 officers become a First Nations police force with a split cost with the province.
Maskwacis already has a cost arrangement for the 12 community officers.
“Who better to deal with First Nations issues than First Nations themselves?” asked Buffalo.
He suggests having an outsider analyze or fix issues on Maskwacis is not the solution, adding that there are a greater number of qualified and educated folks from Maskwacis who understand the challenges and issues.
The Cree culture and its people still have a strong foundation and it is that which will help them, said Buffalo.
“We can’t continue to blame anybody or any organization for our issues,” he added.
He suggests an aboriginal police force is the first step to solving the problems found on Maskwacis.
Minister Ganley said that while she hasn’t fully reviewed the proposal, the province, “definitely understands the issues they’re facing.”
There are some challenges to the proposal considering that First Nations jurisdiction falls under the federal government, however, Ganley added that ignoring the issues on Maskwacis won’t actually help anything.
Along with mental health and drug and alcohol challenges there are concerns of safety within Maskwacis.
“No one should have to live in a community where they don’t feel safe,” said Ganley.
Her hope is to work closely with the Maskwacis community and the federal government to find a solution.