An Indigenous police service in northwestern Ontario is hoping a new program will help address sexual violence and human trafficking in Treaty Three territory.
The Treaty Three Police Service’s Spirit of Hope initiative is being funded by a provincial, three-year, $300,000 proceeds of crime grant, and should be up and running by September, said Jeff Skye, the service’s deputy chief.
The program will be community-based, and work for better outcomes for Indigenous women while reducing incidents of crime against them, a description of the Spirit of Hope project posted on the province’s community safety grants web page states.
Skye said the Treaty Three Police Service will be seeking input from communities and elders as the program is developed.
“We know our communities best,” said Skye. “We also have lived the trauma throughout decades of the institutions that traumatized our communities, and our people.”
“This program, of course, is geared to our policing service, because it’s one way of trying to help our communities,” he said. “But also, as I’ve mentioned many, many times, our women are sacred in our communities, and we have to do everything we can to protect them.”
Karen Kejick, an anti-violence advocate for Indigenous women and girls, said the Treaty Three Police Service is uniquely positioned to run a program like Spirit of Hope, due to their strong connection to the communities they serve.
Treaty Three police visit schools in communities, and host powwows, for example, she said.
“Their approach to policing would be very different from any other police service, I’m sure, based on the values,” she said. “Treaty Three is special and unique in that way.”