Northern Saskatchewan First Nations calling for immediate action on police reform

Indigenous leaders are calling on recommendations for the Prince Albert police to be implemented

In Prince Albert Saskatchewan, 362 KM from Regina, the local Indigenous leadership is calling for immediate action after an independent review by the province about the Prince Albert police.

The province released 45 recommendations from the report, but has declined to make the report public.

The Prince Albert Grand Council is reacting to recommendations released by the Ministry of Corrections and Public Safety that examined issues with the force after a string of deaths occurred while in police custody.

“The comprehensive report resulting from special inquiry contains 45 recommendations regarding the Prince Albert police, each holding a key to a more just and secure future”, Grand Chief Brian Hardlotte said at a press conference held at the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations offices in Saskatoon.

“It is imperative that we act upon these recommendations without delay and we owe it to the family to do this, who have endured miserable pain and to our community as a whole.”

These recommendations were made as a result of the deaths of 13-month-old Tanner Brass and Saul Laliberte aged 33. Brass was allegedly killed by his father in their home in February 2022 and Saul Laliberte died in custody at the Prince Albert Police station on Nov. 7, 2021.

Brass was allegedly killed by his father in their home in February 2022 and Saul Laliberte age 33, died in his cell at the Prince Albert Police Station on November 7th, 2021.

His mother, Amelia Bloomfield had asked the police service to take her son to the hospital because she believed he was in medical distress. The officers ignored her only to find Laliberte dead in his cell.

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Earlier this month, a veteran of 21 years with the police force has been charged with criminal negligence causing death and failing to provide medical assistance.

Former Police Chief, Jonathan Bergen retired in May, citing personal attacks and character assassination.

Of the 45 recommendations, Hardlotte calls for recommendation number 28 which proposes the inclusion of the government of Saskatchewan on the board of the police commissioners to be expanded to also include the representative from the Prince Albert Grand Council.

“We want that from that recommendation. We also want somebody from the Prince Albert Grand Council, or PAGC on that police commission,” said Hardlotte.

While the Indigenous leaders continue to review the recommendations, they are calling on all police agencies to stop lodging any intoxicated person in cells. They argue that qualified staff should be on hand to care for those individuals.

While the PAGC and FSIN continue to review the recommendations and wait for a final report, Hardlotte remains optimistic.

“It’s about humanity. You can’t continue treating people like this, vulnerable people. I’ve always asked the police services to respect the vulnerable people, not only the vulnerable people, the people that that you’re taking to custody.”

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