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Tobacco Trade and Policing issues addressed at the Community Meeting

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MCK April Community Meeting

By: Kyle Williams

Approximately 25 people attended the MCK Community meeting on Tuesday, April 9th, at the Golden Age club. Highlights from several of the subjects discussed were policing in Kahnawa:ke and the tobacco industry.

Chief Peacekeeper Dwayne Zacharie gave an update on the operating efficiency of the police station.  Zacharie began with a mission statement stating that their goal is to provide all-encompassing community based policing, to be able to provide service in every situation, emergency or non-emergency. They want to be leaders in community safety.

The Peacekeepers are developing new programs and workshops to expand eligibility and qualification of community members because there is a shortage of qualified people. Field Training Officers will be training the newbies, as well as the standard training facilities that they’ve been using for the last few years.

Zacharie explained the roles of the police ethics and police accountability boards. The Peacekeeper Service Board to ensure that all the operations run smoothly and to the proper application of time and budget.  The ethics committee is set up to deal with complaints against officers. Complaints go to Chief Zacharie first, and then are put to the committee, and the community is allowed to be involved at every step.

They plan on strengthening collaborations with the other service organizations like the Fire Brigade, Community and Animal Protection and so on.  They are here to help with whatever problems we may have, even things like basement floods and other minor things. They are always training.

Zacharie gave a quick historical overview of the Peacekeepers who started in 1979. At the beginning there were a few different forces with few police officers. However, things have developed over the years and the force has grown into the Kahnawake Peacekeepers that currently have 32 officers, with 2 in training to be hired soon.

He also shared some community statistics. In the last 5 years they were called 12-15000 times a year, from that roughly 3000 files were made. Since January 1st this year, they had 2983 calls. 42 % of their calls are about property (mischief, damage) and a majority of the remainder is for assault, drunk driving or drugs.

After his presentation Chief Zacharie held a question and answer session.

Here are few issues discussed:

  • Do not enter the little road next to Tim Horton’s going towards the Ranch from the lights, it is an exit only and is dangerous for the traffic, you will get a ticket.
  • PK’s do not deal with tobacco warrants or issues if non-native police forces come to them. PK’s do not execute these warrants either; some people however turn themselves in to the PK’s and in this case they will run it. Basically, only if you get caught for something else and you happen to have a tobacco warrant also, they will run it, but they won’t actually come after you for it.
  •  You must have a gun license to buy guns in Kahnawake, with having background checks first. The stores also need to apply for a license to sell them.
  •  PK’s do not deal with drug charges against minors, the parents and KSCS councilors deal with them.
  •  There is a sex offender registry in Kahnawake, but it is confidential and only PK’s have the list. However, many people including Chief Zachary and other officers want it to be made publicly available, which brings up the Justice Act. Sexual assault charges are dealt with almost daily but laws hinder what most people consider the proper justice.
  •  The Justice Act needs to be finalized and enacted before laws like this can be worked on.
  •  PK’s have protocols with the SQ and RCMP; they are supposed to notify the PK’s if they come on to the reservation, but they don’t always do it and it can sometimes lead to bad things happening. In extreme cases things like the Idle No More march up the bridge in March and the Tyler Glasgow incident. It seems outside forces won’t always follow these rules out of resentment being that the PK’s do not help them with tobacco cases. The best thing to do is to just call the police station if you see undercover outside officers here.
  • The train whistle blowing issue for the clay mountains area is still being worked on.

Once the policing topic wrapped up, the discussion surrounding the Tobacco Industry began.

MCK Grand Chief Mike Delisle gave an overview on how the outside justice systems are trying to add jail time to tobacco incriminations, which is putting pressure on Kahnawa:ke to get its Justice Act together. “We need to decide if we are going to begin regulating the industry”, said Delisle. A brief discussion on how the industry is deemed illegal because it is not regulated and the outside government cannot tax, so they miss out on millions of dollars a year from it.

If regulated it would give more protection for the people involved in the industry. However, the question remains, will people agree with letting the MCK regulate. The community consultation is upcoming but unclear when.

Further discussion involved how legislating tobacco will be difficult, some people believe that taxation will come automatically with a regulated industry but that may or may not be the case. The process is set to start soon, before the outside really starts cracking down.

There was also comparisons made to outside of Kahnawake and how that industry can sell tobacco because it is regulated (to their standards, which are questionable…) and because of the millions of dollars in tax a year that it brings the government.

Since 1988 Kahnawake has been working on starting to regulate the industry but other issues such as the casino and land claims have taken up a lot of time. MCK says they are focusing now to actually get things done.

MCK has told the federal government to stop issuing permits for factories to community members but they do it anyway. Council wants the licenses to be issued by this community eventually and not some non-objective outside entity.

One man asked why the MCK is actually asking the community about this but didn’t ask about the gaming law in 1994. The response given was because the tobacco industry is larger and is the livelihood of many more people. The gaming law consultation would’ve had the problem that a lot of consultation periods have, which is under-attendance.

*Next meeting is May 14th 

Side Note: This meeting began with the usual land allotments announcing 3 applicants.

  • Cheyanne Delaronde
  • Wentaha:wi Elijah
  • Tina Marquis

They were all approved with no objections and went on their way.

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