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Police abuse of Indigenous women alleged in report PDF Print E-mail
Written by Manfred Joehnck   
Monday, 19 June 2017 10:44

FSIN Vice-Chief Heather Bear, photo courtesy @fsinations, Twitter.

A group called "Human Rights Watch" flanked by FSIN Vice-Chief Heather Bear, released a report outlining alleged abuse and discrimination against Aboriginal women and girls by police forces in the province and right across Canada.

The group is calling for the establishment of an independent civilian committee to investigate complaints against police.

The report cites several examples of abuse, as well as intimidation. Human Rights Watch says it documented 64 alleged cases of violent abuse against Indigenous women at the hands of the police.

The abuse documented included excessive use of force, invasive body and strip searches by male officers and sexual harassment during these searches. The report was compiled last year during a six-week fact finding mission by Human Rights Watch researchers.

Bear says the FSIN stands behind the report.

"Policing is one of the institutions that has failed to protect Indigenous women from violence, so how many reports do we have to do to before this issue is addressed properly?"

The report calls for an independent civilian committee to look into complaints against the police, which Bear says is important because when it comes to Aboriginal women and girls she says the issues are unique.

"We need someone to watch who is protecting us and ensure that accountability is there to protect and serve the citizens of the province."

The group is calling on the federal and provincial government to expand non-incarceration options for individuals arrested for being intoxicated in public, including short and long-term detox facilities, and alcohol management programs, where medical and social services personnel can provide appropriate care in a culturally sensitive way.

It also wants police forces to step up their training of officers to include cultural sensitivity and indigenous history. It is also asking police agencies to document ethnicity of people they come in contact with to provide better record keeping on how the law interacts with Indigenous people.

Bear says there are good officers in the RCMP and city police forces and more are needed to protect not only Indigenous women but all women. She also says there is still mistrust within Aboriginal people and the police.

"There are a lot of people out there that don't want to come forward about this issue because they fear retaliation or negative repercussions if they spoke out.  There's an element of fear and intimidation and that is what the police are supposed to be defending and protecting."

Last Updated on Monday, 19 June 2017 15:44
Fines issued after illegal hunting investigation PDF Print E-mail
Written by Manfred Joehnck   
Monday, 19 June 2017 09:43

Photo courtesy of policecanada.ca

Tens of thousands of dollars in fines have been levied following a two-and-a-half-year investigation into illegal outfitting activities near the community of Hazlet, just northwest of Swift Current.

Four North Battleford area men have been fined a total of more than $71,000, and have had a number of restrictions placed on them.

The investigation involved forensics, conservation and law enforcement agencies from several Saskatchewan communities, as well as wildlife officials and witnesses from Wisconsin.

In November of 2016, 59-year-old Charles Meechance pleaded guilty to unlawfully acting as a guide, illegal hunting and providing false information. He was fined $11,000.

The other three accused went to trial in May and were found guilty on similar charges. Thirty-seven-year-old Gerald Meechance was fined $33,800, 43-year-old Neal Meechance was fined $15,820 and 47-year-old Steven Pritchard was fined $10,920.

A number of hunting restrictions were also placed on the men for a period of five years, including that their hunting must be restricted to First Nations land.

Last Updated on Monday, 19 June 2017 09:58
Final expert witness at La Loche shooter hearing calls him ‘remorseful’ PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chelsea Laskowski   
Friday, 16 June 2017 15:29

Defence lawyer Aaron Fox outside court on Friday. Photo by Chelsea Laskowski.

For the first time, an expert witness at the La Loche shooter's sentencing hearing described the teen as "remorseful" about all the murders and attempted murders he committed on January 22, 2016.

The 19-year-old, whose identity is protected by the Criminal Youth Justice Act, was 17 when he opened fire in the high school he'd been attending, killing teacher Adam Wood and educational assistant Marie Janvier, and injuring seven. Currently, the Crown prosecutor is seeking an adult sentence for the offender, who entered guilty pleas in the fall.

At the hearing, Crown witnesses described the teen as - at most - remorseful for the murders of teen brothers Dayne and Drayden Fontaine, but not remorseful about the events that took place at the school.

On Friday, expert neuropsychologist Monty Nelson took the stand as the last defence witness to testify before the case takes a two-month adjournment. He told Meadow Lake court the offender spoke with him on Thursday between 45 minutes and an hour, saying he was remorseful and showed him a letter he'd written (which he later read aloud in court) that “did go through thoughts on each particular victim." When prosecutor Lloyd Stang expressed skepticism that this is a true sign of remorse and rather an attempt to counteract the negative response the offender's perceived lack of remorse has gotten in court, Nelson said “certainly he is aware of what people have been saying about him, and I guess anything is possible” but that in his view, the sympathetic comments "seem quite genuine to me.”

Nelson says the offender seems more engaged, animated, and better able to describe his thoughts than when he evaluated him in July of 2016. Nelson said last summer, the offender was unsure of who he could trust and was very quiet.

Expert neuropsychologist Monty Nelson leaves court for a break during the Friday hearing. Photo by Chelsea Laskowski.

The bulk of Nelson’s testimony revolved around an IQ test Nelson performed, which found the offender to have an IQ of 68. Only two per cent of people in the offender’s age category score lower than that, with a defence psychiatrist finding that score key to his diagnosis of an intellectual development disorder in the offender.

Nelson said the offender was a very strong visual learner, adding that “he’s built for watching and doing. He’s built in some ways like an apprentice.” Earlier in the hearing, court heard he had become obsessed with watching American school shooting videos prior to January 22nd, 2016 and enjoyed hunting.

Nelson said the offender’s biggest weakness was problem solving, where he scored worse than 99 per cent of people his age. This is further exacerbated when the offender is stressed or under a time crunch.

Overall, defence witnesses painted the picture of a socially isolated teen deeply impaired by numerous disorders, such as severe depression and the intellectual development disorder.

Nelson is the final witness, aside from the possibility that a person ordered to prepare a Gladue report will be called in to answer questions.

Defence has requested an MRI to be ordered to possibly diagnose the cause of a brain injury the offender incurred in younger years, but Judge McIvor says she does not have that authority.

Instead, she says a physician referral needs to be prepared by an expert who has previously testified, and she can treat the MRI like any other court-ordered assessment. That MRI may or may not make up part of final arguments.

Final sentencing arguments will take place on Aug. 25 in Meadow Lake to allow time for the Gladue report to be prepared.

Last Updated on Friday, 16 June 2017 15:51
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