Obedjiwan Strikes Deal To Take Back Local Policing From SQ

Obedjiwan police have faced chronic funding issues for the past several years. (Obedjiwan)

Obedjiwan police have faced chronic funding issues for the past several years. (Obedjiwan)

But long-term solution to funding issues remains elusive

CBC News Posted: Apr 27, 2016

An Atikamekw First Nation in the Mauricie region will reinstate the community police force it dissolved earlier this month due to a funding shortage.

The Sûreté du Québec has been policing Obedjiwan — 200 kilometres west of Roberval, Que. — since the band council decided to disband its police force of 22 officers.

Obedjiwan’s leaders said the move was necessary because the Quebec government failed to provide $600,000 in additional funding promised to the community to keep its police force afloat.

The band council said Wednesday that it had reached a temporary deal with the federal and provincial governments that will allow it take over policing from the SQ beginning May 1.

They described the negotiations as “not easy” and stressed that a permanent solution to the funding issue still needs to be found.

“We were not completely satisfied, and the discussions are still ongoing to resolve certain financial aspects,” Chief Christian Awashish said in a news release.

The band has been seeking more money since 2012.

A 2015 study conducted by the SQ concluded the Obedjiwan police force required between $2.6 million and $3.2 million to operate. But it currently only receives about $2.2 million in annual financing – which works out to about $42,000 a week.

The cost of having provincial police take over local police duties was estimated at $100,000 per week.

Awashish said even though a long-term solution still needs to be found, he welcomed the return of the local force.

“The public security of the community is much better served by our own Aboriginal police force than it could be by the Sûreté du Québec,” Awashish said in the statement.

“The community breathes easier now and is happy at the return of its police.”