Waywayseecappo First Nation is now policed by the Dakota Ojibway Police Service, a long-awaited switch for the community of more than 1,000.
Manitoba’s First Nation police service officially assumed the jurisdiction from the RCMP yesterday at 9 a.m., with five officers who moved from other jurisdictions while Mounties were relocated.
According to Wayway Chief Melville Wabash, when the RCMP opened a detachment in the community in the mid 1990s, the intention was to staff the department with First Nation community members.
But the plan was gradually phased out, Wabash said, and the Mounties had trouble filling the five positions for the community.
“We wanted our own people serving our First Nation,” Wabash said.
The DOPS detachment in Wayway will be able to take advantage of RCMP resources, such as major crime investigators and identification services, but will now be the main day-to-day policing service.
Wabash said the community had a “strong and trusting” relationship with the outgoing RCMP service, but “on the other hand, it was the vision, when the police detachment was created, to have their own First Nation service policing the community,” he said.
Wabash said he’d like to see more focus on crime prevention and more interaction with the people of Wayway.
Wayway joins many Manitoba First Nation communities already policed by DOPS including Birdtail Sioux, Sioux Valley, Canupawakpa Dakota (south of Virden), Roseau River (north of Emerson) and Sandy Bay (north of Portage la Prairie).
According to the DOPS website, it provides “culturally appropriate police service with a unique awareness and respect for the traditions and culture of the First Nation people.”
DOPS Insp. Marc Saindon said it was the community that wanted the First Nation police service for several years and said the challenges in the First Nation aren’t unique to Wayway.
The switch came on the same morning many members of the community returned home after being evacuated due to flooding concerns this past week, though Saindon said the emergency didn’t complicate the process.
“We were prepared to deal with whatever situation arises,” he said.
An official ceremony to hand over policing power to DOPS from the Mounties will happen at a later date, Wabash said.
DOPS also has invitations out to expand its service to include Long Plain, Dakota Plains, Dakota Tipi and Swan Lake First Nations.
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