Column: More trust needed between Natives, police
"This year has been particularly difficult for Saskatchewan's aboriginal people and police services. There have been eight individuals shot this year by police, with five fatalities and three shootings resulting in serious injuries

This is not a simple issue that has a quick answer. Attitudes must change on all sides.

First, our people must begin to place more faith in law enforcement agencies. Half the First Nations population is under the age of 20 -- the age group, regardless of racial or ethnic background, that tends most to get in trouble with the law. First Nations people are no different.

Many of today's young people are streetwise, exposed to gang activity and have access to weapons that were unattainable a few years ago. Many are also frustrated by under-education and unemployment. As a result, attitudes toward authority have hardened.

Bluntly put, our people fear the police, who are considered outsiders who come to make arrests when there is trouble. Criminals are harboured because the fear of reprisal is greater than the reach of the law. Our people need to see the police as an asset to the community.

Our people currently are the largest group when it comes to being victims of crime.

In some communities, gangs and less organized groups of young people terrorize reserves and neighborhoods. Fear of gang violence and gang vengeance against those who testify make many of our people afraid to seek help from law enforcement agencies."

Get the Story:
Doug Cuthand: Communication most effective tool in police kit (The Saskatoon Star Phoenix 9/5)

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