The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations is asking the province to reconsider the formation of a new rural crime task force.
Vice Chief Heather Bear told 650 CKOM Wednesday the plan to give more power and firearms to conservation officers and commercial vehicle enforcement will create more problems than it solves.
“It’s ridiculous,” she said. “This is telling people it’s okay to use guns to defend property.”
Bear criticized the government for not consulting Indigenous organizations on the plan for the task force, even though it could end up targeting First Nations populations.
She said arming officers without proper training could lead to more violence in the province, making situations more dangerous for Indigenous peoples.
“I worry about people making more mistakes,” she said. “You’re just giving more authority over people … there are already enough of our people in jails.”
The vice chief noted despite what she says is over-representation in the prison system for Indigenous peoples, crime rates aren’t going down.
She added $5.9 million price tag would be better spent on initiatives to prevent crime, rather than react to it.
Bear said poverty and a lack of activity options on reserves has made youth more desperate, but investing in their future could pull them away from crime.
“Can’t you put more money into recreational centres, rather than putting more money into training people to use guns?”
The task force comes after pressure from farmers and other rural residents over thefts and slow RCMP response times.
The problem was magnified after the Aug. 9, 2016, shooting of Red Pheasant First Nation man Colten Boushie on a farm property near Biggar.
Bear said the task force does nothing to relieve racial tensions, which flared in the wake of the shooting.