The Prince Albert Grand Council (PAGC) is getting ready to talk to their communities about First Nations self administered policing.

The tribal council recently got funding from the federal and provincial governments to put on engagement sessions where communities will have the chance to offer their thoughts on self administered policing.

PAGC Vice Chief Joseph Tsannie told MBC Radio News the funding will be used to hire the staff who will be tasked with doing the on the ground engagement work. He added they are hoping to start holding engagement sessions in the near future.

“We’re in January now, hopefully (we’ll) start those engagements in February and have our people start talking about community safety and policing, how they want to see policing done in their communities,” he said.

Tsannie explained the engagement process is currently expected to take 18 months. The information gathered from communities during the process will then be compiled into a report which will be given to both the federal and provincial governments along with PAGC.

“We’re looking at 18 months to have this report finalized, but you know depending on how the engagements go it could take longer, but we want to try to wrap it up in 18 months,” said Tsannie.

The vice chief said the tribal council is looking to work with First Nations University of Canada (FNUniv) and outside consultants to compile the information gathered from the engagement sessions into a full report. During the engagement process Tsannie said communities could voice support for keeping the status quo in terms of policing or could be interested in having a regional or local policing service.

“I think that report will outline the pros and cons of each of those initiatives,” he said.

When it comes to improving community safety overall, Tsannie said possible changes to policing are not the only ones being looked at. The PAGC vice chief said community safety planning is another area where work is being done and involves people in a range of different areas.

“There’s other areas that need some attention and we need to focus on those other areas (that are) as equally as important as the policing file,” he said.

(Top Photo: PAGC Vice Chief Joseph Tsannie speaks at the PAGC Assembly in 2022. Photo by Michael Joel-Hansen.)