Released on May 10, 2023
Several Indigenous Organizations, Including FSIN and STC, also Interested in Pilot Project Model
The Government of Saskatchewan has passed amendments to improve and streamline enforcement of First Nations laws and bylaws.
Bill 126, The Summary Offences Procedure Amendment Act, 2022, will provide a simplified legal framework that will enable First Nations to enforce laws and bylaws on reserve through tickets, fines and other measures that can be administered through the Provincial Court.
Previously, First Nations community safety officers were unable to enforce bylaws and gather fine revenue without using complex enforcement processes, such as the long form federal Criminal Code process. The new processes for bylaw enforcement and fine collection may be used by any First Nation in Saskatchewan that chooses to opt into the new provisions under the Act.
“Saskatchewan is a national leader in this area, which will allow First Nations more control over how they address offences and manage fine revenue,” Justice Minister and Attorney General Bronwyn Eyre said. “This is a practical change that will make First Nations bylaw enforcement more efficient, less expensive, and less time-consuming."
Government signed a memorandum of understanding with the Muskoday and Whitecap Dakota First Nations in 2019 to collaborate on a pilot project to explore ways to better enforce laws under the federal First Nations Land Management Act, as well as bylaws under the Indian Act.
This legislation is a direct result of that work and will ensure that First Nations laws and bylaws are enforced, prosecuted and adjudicated the same way that provincial laws are in Provincial Court. First Nations community safety officers will be primarily responsible for the enforcement of First Nations laws and bylaws under this legislation using the tools created through the amendments, such as the simplified provincial ticket and an option to pay a fine rather than appearing in Court.
Government will continue to work with the Muskoday and Whitecap Dakota First Nations to develop solutions to enforce laws on-reserve.
“This has been a long time coming to enforce our laws and bylaws for the First Nation under this type of legal framework,” Muskoday First Nation Chief Ron Bear said. “We want to continue discussions on this topic and other ways, such as a tribal police force, we can address more serious offenses on First Nations like drugs and violent gang activity.”
“Public safety is a priority for our members and residents," Whitecap Dakota First Nation Chief Darcy Bear said. "Combined with our new Community Safety Officer program, our Whitecap Dakota Government will use these new legislative tools through SOPA to ensure the laws we pass are enforceable both now and as we transition towards Whitecap Dakota self-government.”
Other Saskatchewan First Nations groups, including the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) and Saskatoon Tribal Council (STC), as well as the federal government and the Province of Ontario, have expressed interest in Saskatchewan's approach.
These changes will come into force by Order in Council after the necessary regulations and policies are implemented.
To learn more about the bylaw enforcement pilot project with the Muskoday and Whitecap Dakota First Nations, please see https://www.saskatchewan.ca/government/news-and-media/2019/october/18/first-nation-mou.
For more information, contact:
Justice and Attorney General