Historic Day for First Nations Policing: Royal Assent Received for Bill 175, Safer Ontario Act
On March 8, 2018, Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler and Nishnawbe Aski Police Service (NAPS) Board Chairman, Mike Metatawabin, celebrated the passing of the Safer Ontario Act. This groundbreaking legislation paves the way for the Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service (NAPS) to become a fully mandated police force.
In a news release, NAN Grand Chief Fiddler stated, “For the first time we are aware of, an Indigenous police service will be mandated with the rule of law. This is an incredible achievement, and we thank our leaders, our members and our officers for their perseverance in the face of overwhelming adversity… this legislation will ensure that NAN First Nations will have access to the same level of policing as the rest of Ontario.”
Legal counsel for NAN and Grand Chief Fiddler, Julian Falconer, stated, “It’s a huge development, after all the time, Ipperwash [referring to the 1995 Ipperwash Crisis in which Stony Point First Nation occupied land the federal government had appropriated for military use], everything else. This is very big, there’s actual protections in the Act to retain the Indigenous identity and become a legislated police service just like any other police service in the province.”
- 1994 – NAPS created to provide primary policing services to dozens of NAN communities. From the beginning, NAPS is chronically underfunded as a discretionary government “program”. It is not legally considered an essential service and there is no requirement that it be funded to meet provincial standards. Its “First Nation Constables” lack the legal status of police officers;
- 1994-2015 – Numerous NAN resolutions demand government action on the underfunding of NAPS;
- February 18, 2015 – NAN Grand Chief, NAPS Board Chair, and the Minister and Deputy Minister of Community Safety sign terms of reference for the Adequacy Standards Table (AST) to negotiate a legislative framework for First Nation policing;
- August 5, 2016 – Parties to the AST reach final agreement on over 100 draft legislative amendments;
- November 2, 2017 – After further consultations with NAN and NAPS, the Government of Ontario incorporates AST amendments into a broader package of legislative reform called the Strategy for a Safer Ontario and tables Bill 175 in the Ontario Legislature.
- March 8, 2018: Bill 175, Safer Ontario Act receives royal assent.
In the News
Historic Day for First Nations Policing as Bill 175 Receives Royal Assent March 8, 2018, NAN
Ontario takes big step towards First Nations policing with historic bill March 8, 2018 APTN News
Policing in Ontario takes ‘a large step forward’ with sweeping new law March 8, 2018, Toronto Star