Poundmaker Cree Nation and Little Pine First Nation will soon have their own Community Safety Officers patrolling their communities now that a new training program has been announced.
There was a celebration at Chief Little Pine School Monday when the program was launched. Twenty people from both communities will begin their training tomorrow.
Bryan Tootoosis of Poundmaker Cree Nation, a band member and elder in the community, said Poundmaker and Little Pine initially made a proposal to the government for the program.
"The overall program is a federal initiative but they are working with the province and other agencies and public institutions to carry out the training program for our band members for both reserves,” he said.
Tootoosis added the program will help ensure the course participants receive “proper authorized training,” so they have the ability to provide security services as required, and assistance for the RCMP.
“They have all sorts of support," he said. "They also have the support of the chief and council, and elders and members of the community."
Tootoosis added the participants will have all the tools required for the job provided after training. He said the work to develop the program took roughly three years.
Gavin Nash, the program manager for policy and governance with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Corrections and Policing, also attended Monday’s launch.
"I think it's great; I'm glad they took the initiative," he said.
Nash said these peace officers will be similar to the Community Safety Officers working in North Battleford who assist the RCMP currently.
He said Little Pine and Poundmaker reserves will cover the cost of salaries, while the province is assisting with some of the training for the program.
The course runs for six weeks ending in December. It is comprised of four weeks in-class at Chief Little Pine School and two weeks for the online training portion offered through the Canadian Police Knowledge Network (CPKN).
Nash said it will be up to Little Pine and Poundmaker to determine how they will share the peace officers once the course is complete.
The RCMP and North West College will also be involved with the instruction for the program.
Nash said there are also trained CSOs in Onion Lake First Nation, and a number of other First Nations.
The program in Little Pine and Poundmaker is a pilot program but Nash said he is hopeful it will continue into the future.
"It's reassurance," said Nash. "When people can look out the window they will know that their community member is out in uniform patrolling their communities, and making things safe."
Nash said the CSOs will be appointed by the province and will have the authority to enforce the Traffic Safety Act, the Alcohol and Gaming Regulations Act, and other provincial statutes tailored to their communities.
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