AMC Calls for Proactive Solutions and Collaboration with WPS to Address Increase in Youth Crime Rates

June 7, 2024

Treaty One Territory, Manitoba

AMC Communications

Treaty One Territory, Winnipeg – The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) issues this statement of concern, urging the Winnipeg Police Services (WPS) to work collaboratively with First Nations to address the gaps in services for First Nations youth involved in the Justice and Child and Family Services (CFS) systems.

Recent findings from Project Surge, conducted by the Winnipeg Police Service, reveal that 114 youths involved in 1,795 police incidents are all in the care of the CFS system. Project Surge aims to tackle youth crime, including serious crimes such as homicide and assaults, and also addresses missing person reports. Although the WPS has acknowledged the need to break these cycles, to date, there has been no commitment to working with First Nations Leadership in Manitoba to resolve this specific issue.

AMC Grand Chief Cathy Merrick says the findings of Project Surge underscore the importance of taking swift and strategic action to reduce the instances of First Nations children interacting with these systems. “We know that children and youth in the child welfare system are often First Nations, and we have observed a recurring pattern of youth running away from group homes and foster care placements, which makes them vulnerable to becoming missing persons and targets for predators,” said AMC Grand Chief Cathy Merrick. “The significant gaps in service and systemic lack of support for youth aging out of care has created a situation where when children age out of these systems, they do so without little to no access to basic needs and essential services.”

Call for Justice 5.1 from Reclaiming Power and Place: Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls urges governments to immediately implement the recommendations in relation to the Canadian justice system in Bridging the Cultural Divide: A Report on Aboriginal People and Criminal Justice in Canada, Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (1996); and the Report of the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry of Manitoba: Public Inquiry into the Administration of Justice and Aboriginal People (1991).

First Nations have disproportionately high incarceration rates, which are often the symptom of a much larger, systemic issue. To tackle the link between CFS and the justice system, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs’ First Nations Family Advocate Office (AMC-FNFAO) has launched a Youth Advisory Group (YAG) comprised of First Nations youth with firsthand experience in both systems. “We are empowering these young individuals to lead engagements with their peers, aiming to capture the impact, provide recommendations for systemic reform, and foster a stronger understanding between the CFS, WPS, and First Nations youth,” continued Grand Chief Merrick.

The AMC urges the WPS to work collaboratively with First Nations Leadership to address the gap in services for First Nations youth. The AMC also calls for the implementation of the MMIWG2S+ National Inquiry Call for Justice 5.1 and urges Canada and Manitoba to enter into a tripartite process to fully implement the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry.

For more information, please contact:

Communications Team
Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs

About the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs

The AMC was formed in 1988 by the Chiefs in Manitoba to advocate on issues that commonly affect First Nations in Manitoba. AMC is an authorized representative of 62 of the 63 First Nations in Manitoba with a total of more than 172,000 First Nations citizens in the province, accounting for approximately 12 percent of the provincial population. AMC represents a diversity of Anishinaabe (Ojibway), Nehetho / Ininew (Cree), Anisininew (Ojibwe-Cree), Denesuline (Dene) and Dakota Oyate (Dakota) peoples.