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Aboriginal conflicts can be peacefully resolved: OPP report

CBC News

A new report from the OPP highlights its efforts to peacefully resolve conflicts that involve Aboriginal people.

Staff sergeant Gary Maracle said the OPP puts an emphasis on communication during incidents such as protests or blockades. The force may bring in specially trained teams that have often already built relationships within First Nations communities.

"That's paramount to our success,” he said.

“You know, if you have established relationships prior to any critical incident, it certainly magnifies our ... success rate. It's a lot easier to deal with people you've already established relationships with and built that trust with."

The report gives examples of how police use guidelines from a framework known as “Police Preparedness for Aboriginal Critical Incidents.”

The framework is a kind of checklist to ensure that police consider all possible options before deciding how to deal with an incident.

'Successful track record'

Maracle said people would likely be surprised to see how often this framework is used across Ontario.

"I would say we've come a long way and we have a pretty successful track record,” he said.

“We apply this [framework in] a daily approach to issues around the province, especially in our First Nations communities."

He said the framework is all about communication, but education and knowledge of First Nations issues is also important.

The approach police took during the Idle No More protests last year is also an example of how they are approaching First Nations issues.

There has been some criticism of this approach but, at the end of the day, the OPP’s biggest concern is the safety of everyone involved in an incident, Maracle said.

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