Police services are an important part of any community, moreso when there is a presence at all times. Fisher River Cree Nation is hoping its very own police station can make their community a better place to live, work and play.
Chief David Crate and council signed a community tripartite agreement with the federal government, through Public Safety Canada, and the province, represented by director of First Nations policing Wes Courchene, on May 15, to establish that an RCMP detachment to be built at the former site of the old community hall.
The agreement and detachment is part of the First Nations Policing Program, administered by Public Safety Canada, where police agencies such as the RCMP provide services to First Nations and Inuit communities through cost-sharing with provincial and federal governments.
Crate told The Interlake Spectator that the agreement is the culmination of years of lobbying both the province and the federal government for a police detachment in the community. Currently, the Fisher Branch RCMP detachment provides policing for Fisher River.
“We started engagements with (the governments of) Manitoba and Canada probably 15 years ago,” he said. “With the federal funding for the FNPP, the problem we encountered was some years, the province would have the funding and the feds wouldn’t have the funding. This was an ongoing issue as we talked with government and finally, the government was able to make the decision to support a detachment for the community.”
Despite nearby Peguis First Nation having its own RCMP detachment, it does not police the Fisher River area and Crate said that police in Fisher Branch can take 40 to 45 minutes to respond to a call in Fisher River.
Crate not only believes that having ongoing policing in the community will increase security, but that it can also stimulate the economy. Crate cited a Harvard University study which found that businesses are more likely to invest in safe and secure communities.
“We’re attracting investment into the community and we want investors to know also that we have a good police service available in the community,” he explained.
However, the main focus for Crate and Fisher River residents is public safety and he feels that a police presence can be a deterrent for crimes including narcotics trafficking.
“It will cut down on impaired drivers,” he said. “There are also individuals driving without licences and because (Provincial Road 224) runs through the community, they will probably do more traffic enforcement, such as radar and (catching) other highway infractions.”
Crate said that the new detachment is still in the planning stages and an opening date has not yet been set.