In a media release sent out Thursday the Prince Albert Grand Council (PAGC) said the news about Prince Albert Police Service Deputy Chief Jason Stonechild’s retirement was not welcome. PAGC Grand Chief Brian Hardlotte told MBC News he felt it was important for his organization to speak out.

“I am kind of saddened and somewhat disappointed,” he said about hearing of Stonechild’s retirement.

The media release put out by PAGC said the tribal council, which represents 12 different First Nations, recognizes the positive impact the out going deputy chief has had on a number of fronts. This has included helping PAGC play a bigger role in helping with some emergency services and helping bring the organization into the provincial search and rescue system.

PAGC as well commended Stonechild for his work in helping to bring forward calls to justice from the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry. Specifically, working to make sure families are more involved in investigations. Stonechild as well served on the PAGC’s planning committee for a monument to MMIWG.

Grand Chief Hardlotte said he believes it is important to have First Nations people in leadership roles like Stonechild was. He added they are looking to speak with the city and police service about the issue.

“I think it’s very important and that’s what we’re going to work on with the city, with the mayor himself and also the police commission,” he said.

Overall Hardlotte said he is happy with the number of Indigenous people working for the P.A. Police Service, but added he would like to see that number grow as people in those positions can serve as potential role models.

Hardlotte said there is more to policing than just making arrests as working with the overall community is also important. He said this is an issue for communities serviced by the RCMP where many of the officers coming in are young and don’t understand the people and communities they are supposed to be serving. He added PAGC is working with the province and federal government to deal with this issue.

“It’s not always about arresting the person right off the bat and you know putting that person into the justice system or getting the fine,” he said.

(Photo courtesy of Prince Albert Grand Council: Deputy Chief Jason Stonechild with PAGC leadership)