Home News Peacekeepers secure funding for equipment, station 

Peacekeepers secure funding for equipment, station 

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The Kahnawake Mohawk Peacekeepers now have an extra $3.6 million in their coffers after securing new funding from Quebec and the federal government.  

The Mohawk Council of Kahnawake (MCK) approved the new funding agreements with both governments at a Council meeting earlier this month. According to Council documents, the Quebec government provided $1.8 million for the construction of a new police station and communications tower in Tioweró:ton, Kahnawake’s satellite reserve near the town of Ste. Lucie in northern Quebec. The rest of the funding, over $1.8 million, comes from Public Safety Canada, and will go toward the purchasing of police equipment for the force.  

“The new equipment helps us,” said Peacekeepers police chief Dwayne Zacharie, who said it will go toward much needed items like police vehicles and bulletproof vests. “It’ll help us to be able to respond better and quicker to the types of calls that we see.” 

The federal government has been providing the Peacekeepers with additional stablization funding since 2019, he said, part of a commitment of theirs to recognize First Nation policing as an essential service. The Peacekeepers received smaller grants in past years however, Zacharie said, in the range of $300,000 to $400,000.   

“That helps us to offset costs, mostly all for equipment or infrastructure needs,” Zacharie said. “This year it just happens to be a large amount. Most of it is spoken for already and likely will be expensed very soon.” 

Though the funding is a boost for the force, the police chief lamented it’s still not enough to hire additional officers, something the community still desperately needs. 

“It’s just enough to keep us treading water,” he said. “We have strategic plans, and we have lots of hopes and aspirations, but it’s very difficult when we’re nickeled and dimed.” 

Zacharie said the funding for an eventual police station in Tioweró:ton comes in response to the growing number of Kahnawa’kehró:non that now live there year-round. Peacekeepers are often assigned to the territory but are not there 24/7, seven days a week, meaning at times provincial police are the only ones that can respond if a call for help comes in.  

“That’s not ideal for us. It needs to be the Kahnawake Peacekeepers,” he said, adding many of the calls are related to injuries, impaired driving, and the breaking and entering of cabins on the territory. “The calls for service for the Peacekeepers to go up there are growing and growing.” 

The police chief said a lot of work is still to come to make the police station a reality in Tioweró:ton. Right now, it’s just a funding commitment, he said, the plan is still to be developed. 

“At this moment it’s just a dream that hasn’t been realized yet. It’s all on paper,” he said. “These are all projects to be developed, and the arrangement and the agreement with the (Quebec) government is to have this project evolve over three years.” 

The recently announced funding is in addition to the annual funding that the Peacekeepers already receive through a funding agreement between Kahnawake, the province, and the federal government, Zacharie said. This fiscal year, that program provided $6.1 million in funding, the police chief said. This coming fiscal year, it will provide just over $6.2 million. 

Earlier this fall, the Quebec Association of First Nation and Inuit Police Directors (QAFNIPD) launched a human rights complaint alleging the province’s underfunding of Quebec’s 22 Indigenous-run police forces constitutes systemic racism. The police chief said that may be motivating both levels of government to take the demands of police forces like their own more seriously.  

“Maybe that’s the reason why it’s happening,” Zacharie said. “Maybe they’re trying to look better in the eyes of the court.” 

miriam@easterndoor.com 

This article was originally published in print on March 29 in issue 33.13 of The Eastern Door.

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Miriam Lafontaine is a reporter with the Eastern Door. Her work has appeared in Le Devoir, CBC Montreal, CBC New Brunswick as well as the Toronto Star.

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Miriam Lafontaine is a reporter with the Eastern Door. Her work has appeared in Le Devoir, CBC Montreal, CBC New Brunswick as well as the Toronto Star.