The fine details have yet to be hammered out, but the RCMP and the Metis Nation of Saskatchewan have signed a protocol-agreement designed to make Metis communities safer.

MNS president Robert Doucette and Assistant Director Russ Mirasty attended a ceremony in Batoche on Tuesday to sign the historic two-year deal.

Local presidents, elders and RCMP officers crowded inside the elder’s lodge on a cloudy, windy day to witness the signing.

The deal builds on community policing partnerships that have already been established.

The protocol also calls for the creation of an internal working group that is dedicated to addressing conflicts and working toward solutions.

In the past the RCMP and the Mounties have not always worked together said Doucette at the ceremony.

He called the uprising at Batoche just one example of the checkered past between the two groups.

At the same time the Metis leader said RCMP officers and Metis need to look to the future, and the protocol is a step towards doing that:

“It’s a starting point to avoid conflicts whenever there’s situations that arise.  There have been instances where — if the RCMP would have had access to elders and Metis local presidents in the communities to talk to them about situations that have arisen, maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad.”

Metis Senator Nora Cummings agreed, saying the agreement was a long time in coming:

“Changes can be made, things can be done and we can work together.  As long as we rebel against that — things will never change.”

Cummings said when she grew up it was the elders who kept the community together so it’s important Metis children are given that same support.

Mirasty said establishing a strong relationship is key and that’s what this agreement targets.

“What the agreement articulates are those different steps we would take to resolve a conflict.  More so, in real practical terms, it’s about preventing any potential conflict.  That means really establishing a strong relationship.”

He said the advisory committee, that was struck years ago, is already part of this process.

Mirasty said having the protocol in writing is a great idea, because it’s easy to talk about safety, but signing an actual document means people have to be more accountable for their actions.