October 18, 2019

Government Signs Historic MOU With First Nations Toward Enforcing Laws

The Government of Saskatchewan is pleased to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Muskoday First Nation and Whitecap Dakota First Nation to address longstanding issues with the enforcement of First Nations’ laws.

As part of the MOU, a task group will consider ways First Nation laws enacted under First Nations Lands Codes and bylaws enacted under the Indian Act can be enforced on reserve.

“This agreement is a significant opportunity to ensure consistency in the way laws are enforced on First Nations and to strengthen the relationship between the Provincial Government and First Nations,” Justice Minister and Attorney General Don Morgan said.  “This will ultimately benefit First Nations communities, the surrounding area, and the province as a whole.”

“Working together helps us all meet our shared goal of safer communities,” Corrections and Policing Minister Christine Tell said.  “I look forward to seeing collaborative solutions from the task group.”

As an immediate and practical solution, the Chiefs of both First Nations have said they wish to work with the province to find approaches that tap into existing and potentially new policing, prosecution and judicial mechanisms to ensure their laws are enforceable.

“It has been difficult to prosecute and enforce laws created by our First Nation,” Whitecap Dakota Chief Darcy Bear said.  “This MOU enables the parties to explore the processes and the potential roles we all play in addressing on-reserve gaps in law enforcement.  Ultimately, our hope is that this agreement will create a path forward to increase public safety and build investor confidence to attract more business onto reserve lands.”

“Muskoday First Nation has a treaty obligation to keep the peace, and maintain good order,” Muskoday First Nation Chief Herman Crain said.  “Our community has tried to meet that obligation by enacting a number of Indian Act bylaws and Land Laws written under our own Land Code and the Framework Agreement on First Nation Land Management, but without a proper system to enforce these laws, it is impossible to uphold such laws and make people accountable.  This will help toward building a safe community.”

The task group will begin its work immediately.

It will look at ways the province and the two First Nations can collaborate with respect to the investigation, laying of charges, prosecution, and adjudication of First Nations' laws, and the enforcement of fines, penalties and other orders.

The group will also explore the possibility of arranging for community safety officers or peacekeepers on reserve.