Following a report by an American-based human rights advocacy group on the treatment of Indigenous women by police, Prince Albert’s police service is considering forming a committee specifically to review the findings.
Human Rights Watch released a report today highlighting the need for the national inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls to include the relationship between Indigenous women and police.
The report is based on six-weeks of information gathering, which includes interviewing 64 Indigenous women from across Saskatchewan. Service providers in various cities were also interviewed including some in Prince Albert. The interviews took place between January and July of 2016, a few months prior to the launch of the inquiry in September.
Human Rights Watch’s report argues high rates of neglect by police when Indigenous women reported domestic violence as well as inappropriate and invasive body and strip searches, sexual harassment and physical assault.
The report prompted the Prince Albert Police Service to issue a media release.
Police Chief Troy Cooper, who participated in the report, said in the release he is considering forming an advisory committee comprised of local Indigenous women. The goal would be for the committee to review the report and provide feedback for the police service.
“When Indigenous women here are victimized they are not a minority statistic, they are our family members and our neighbors," Cooper wrote. "I take pride in the relationship that the Prince Albert Police Service has in the community and our connections to Indigenous women in our community.”
Cooper recognized the historical injustices Indigenous people have gone through but believed police services are moving in the right direction. He said the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the inquiry have both brought a lot of attention to the issue, and required government agencies and police to be more “introspective and ensure policies and training are appropriate.”
"Locally, we are certainly moving forward with these two major processes currently underway and we are actively working on implementing the calls to action that have been set forth by the truth and reconciliation commission,” he said in the release. "I welcomed Human Rights Watch to come to Prince Albert to learn more about our community and our police service."
Cooper mentioned local police routinely take part in cultural events throughout the year and work with several community-based Indigenous women’s groups.
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