Doer Government Shelves Aboriginal Justice Inquiry Recomendations:
Government of Manitoba walks away from negotiations.
Thursday, April 3, 2008
WINNIPEG, MB – The Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF), Southern Chiefs Organization (SCO) and Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) are shocked at the Doer Government’s recent announcement to discard the Devolution of Probation Services Initiative for First Nation and Metis Peoples in Manitoba.After many years of negotiations and partnership the Government of Manitoba sent notice on March 17th, 2008 to the three Aboriginal Governments conveying that they intend to walk away from the process and cease any further discussions or movement on the Initiative.
The message is clear that as Leaders of the three Aboriginal Governments representing all First Nation and Metis Peoples in Manitoba we are outraged at the complete abandonment of the long standing Aboriginal Justice Inquiry Recommendations. MMF, SCO, and MKO have invested many years into developing this Initiative.
MKO Grand Chief Dr. Sydney Garrioch stated “I am outraged that the Province of Manitoba has threatened to walk away from this important work. We committed to work together, to collectively address the social justice issues facing First Nation people including over-representation in the Justice System. The Aboriginal Justice Inquiry called for Aboriginal control and major reforms to the justice system.” Grand Chief Garrioch further stated “Change is never easy, we still must work together to develop a justice system that’s principles are restorative and based on our inherent right to self government, and the traditional teachings of our Elders.”
SCO Grand Chief Morris J Swan Shannacappo stated “On behalf of the thirty-six southern First Nation communities I represent, let me be perfectly clear when I say how disappointing, and disheartening the position the Government of Manitoba is taking on devolving community justice services. For years, SCO has sat in good faith at the negotiation table seeking a more representative and culturally responsive justice system for our constituents; only to be met with unilateral obstacles after unilateral obstacles,” Grand Chief Shannacappo further stated that “If the Government of Manitoba chooses to walk away from all the good and productive work that has taken place over these last several years, it will have irreparable damage on our southern First Nation relations for years to come.”
MMF Vice President of the Southeast Region Denise Thomas stated “The Government services currently in place are not meeting the needs of the Metis people. There is an even greater urgency to develop and evolve further using the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry Recommendations to ensure our People are treated fairly and equitably in the justice system. Regardless of the Provincial Government’s decision, the MMF is committed to this initiative. Through a collective process, we must continue to build relationships and develop new ways to establish a justice system that represents our culture, our self government, and our People. The Province since 2005 has created obstacles for the three Aboriginal Governments from collectively moving forward on the Aboriginal strategy issues. This is not acceptable. Aboriginal Justice issues continue to grow. The current justice system falls short of addressing these growing concerns thus the need for an Aboriginal Justice Strategy that includes Devolution services.”
For More Information Contact:
Kevin Carlson, Assistant to MKO Grand Chief Dr. Sydney Garrioch, Phone: (204) 612-6303
Nahanni Fontaine, Director of Justice, Southern Chiefs’ Organization, Phone: (204) 918-2612
Nicole Leclair, Director of Communications, Manitoba Metis Federation, Phone: 586-8474 ext. 374 Cell: 232-5737 email: firstname.lastname@example.org