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OPASKWAYAK CREE NATION, December 3, 2004 -- Today, the Honourable Gord Mackintosh, Minister of Justice and Attorney General for Manitoba, along with Ms. Anita Neville, Member of Parliament for Winnipeg South Centre, and Chief Frank Whitehead of the Opaskwayak Cree Nation, announced funding of $6.1 million for the Opaskwayak Cree Nation Community Tripartite Agreement.

This five-year agreement, announced on behalf of the Honourable Anne McLellan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, will provide First Nation police services for the community. Costs for providing First Nations policing services are cost shared between the federal (52%) and provincial (48%) governments. Canada will be financing $3.1 million of this agreement.

"This agreement will provide the Opaskwayak Cree Nation with funding for seven RCMP officers who will provide dedicated services to this First Nation community," said Ms. Neville. "Proper policing contributes to healthy communities, public security and personal safety in First Nations communities, including that of women, children and other vulnerable groups."

"The signing of this historic agreement is a positive example of what can be achieved when governments and communities work together towards common goals," said Minister Mackintosh. "This model enables First Nations citizens to participate in decisions and processes that set policing priorities in their community."

"I see the signing of this agreement as a significant step in taking greater control in ensuring safety and security for ourselves and our neighboring communities," said Chief Frank Whitehead. "Our community is excited to participate in a process that recognizes the desirability of providing First Nations people with policing services, guided by cultural and traditional methods."

In addition, Canada and the First Nation have agreed to continue funding two band constables under the Band Constable Program until a resource review of this RCMP - First Nations Community Police Service (RCMP-FNCPS) is completed. The Opaskwayak Cree Nation has also agreed to construct a detachment on First Nation land for these officers.

The First Nation Policing Policy provides a practical way to improve the administration of justice for First Nations through the establishment of First Nations police services that are professional, effective and responsive to the particular needs of the community. Under Community Tripartite Agreements, one of the two First Nations policing models available, the First Nation has its own dedicated, on-site, community-based contingent of Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers. Best efforts are made for these RCMP police services to be staffed by Aboriginal police officers.

The Opaskwayak Cree Nation is located approximately 625 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, Manitoba at the junction of the Saskatchewan and Pasquia Rivers. The on-reserve population is approximately 2,094 persons.

Currently, there are six First Nations Policing Service Agreements in Manitoba.

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Opaskwayak Cree Nation   The Pas, Manitoba, Canada    tel 1-888-763-1566    email