AMC Supports Efforts to Address Drug Trafficking and Organized Crime; Calls for Consultation

April 5, 2024

Treaty One Territory, Manitoba

AMC Communications

Treaty One Territory, Winnipeg, Manitoba – The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) applauds the Manitoba Government’s newly announced actions to reduce crime and keep communities safe and seeks opportunities to consult on further strategies. 

On April 5, 2024, the Manitoba Government announced the introduction of two bills cracking down on organized crime and drug trafficking. Justice Minister Matt Wiebe indicated that these efforts would make it easier for police to proactively investigate the assets of drug traffickers and organized criminals and seize the proceeds of crime in order to end their illegal operations effectively.

“If we can cut off the supply of illegal substances to First Nations, we can encourage healing more effectively,” said Grand Chief Cathy Merrick, “We must seek more effective and culturally appropriate ways to address the current drug crisis and provide our citizens with the necessary guidance and support systems to make healthy choices.”

The new Unexplained Wealth Act would mandate corporations to disclose their beneficial owners to law enforcement and other tax and regulatory bodies, including Manitoba’s Criminal Property Forfeiture Branch. It would also empower the director of criminal property forfeiture to utilize unexplained wealth orders to compel property owners and any responsible officers, such as business partners and corporation directors, to disclose information.

The Body Armour and Fortified Vehicle Control Amendment Act would simplify law enforcement’s ability to seize vehicles with aftermarket modifications used by organized crime to transport money, drugs, and firearms across Canada. Additionally, it would prohibit the use of aftermarket hidden compartments in vehicles, typically added to conceal controlled substances, weapons, and proceeds of crime during transport.

The AMC has long advocated for reducing crime in Manitoba, particularly concerning drug dealing and trafficking. In November 2000, the AMC Chiefs-in-Assembly passed Resolution Nov-00.14 in Support for First Nations Fight Against Drug & Alcohol Abuse, giving “their full cooperation, support and comradeship to all First Nation governments, people and communities in their fight against the crippling and devastating effects of alcohol and drugs.”

Subsequently, the AMC supported actions to curb drug trafficking and contraband. In October 2022, the Chiefs-in-Assembly passed Resolution OCT-22.04, urging amendments to the Canada Post Corporation Act to address a loophole exploited by traffickers using Canada Post to transport contraband into First Nations and remote areas.

Recognizing the devastating impact of drug trafficking and organized crime on First Nations in Manitoba, Grand Chief Merrick said, “The Government of Manitoba has demonstrated its commitment to the safety of citizens and communities by taking much-need action to deter drug trafficking and organized crime. The AMC supports these efforts and welcomes additional measures that will improve safety and curtail illegal activity.”

Grand Chief Merrick continued, “As the political and technical coordinating organization for 62 of the 63 First Nations in Manitoba, mandated to advocate for the interests of First Nations, the AMC possesses considerable expertise on this subject and is open to collaborating with the Manitoba Government to ensure that First Nations voices are heard in the fight to reduce crime and maintain community safety.”

“I would like to remind the Manitoba Government that the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) requires that states consult and cooperate with Indigenous peoples through their representative institutions before taking legislative or administrative measures that may affect them. We urge the Manitoba Government to ensure that First Nations knowledge, expertise, and insights are engaged when developing strategies to address issues that disproportionately impact them.”

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.