Dakota Tipi officials criticize RCMP response to double shooting
CBC News, April 8, 2016
Officials on Manitoba’s Dakota Tipi First Nation have criticized the RCMP response to Thursday’s shooting, saying officers “did nothing while a man was running around with a gun.”
Band Coun. Karl Stone said police stood around at the edge of the community instead of coming in to protect residents. Three hours passed between the time people on the reserve reported sightings of the suspect and when the RCMP finally arrested him.
“He could have shot more people in the community,” Stone said, demanding the First Nation be allowed to establish its own police force.
“They done nothing to take the man into custody quicker than they should have. I’m sure if this was happening in the city, police would do something.”
“We’re sick and tired of seeing people getting killed and the RCMP shrugging it off,” added Terry Nelson, the grand chief of the Southern Chiefs’ Organization.
The SCO represents 32 First Nations in the province and most of them are facing the same problems, he said, noting a general unemployment rate in the range of 60 to 95 per cent.
The bleak situation, he said, is caused by government oppression and exacerbated by the RCMP’s poor response.
“We’ve reported violence and drugs and nothing ever happens,” he said.
Dennis Pashe, a former chief of Dakota Tipi, said the suspect — his nephew Tyson Pashe — wasn’t hard to find. He was just 45 metres from his house but the police didn’t put in the effort to go after him.
The community, 85 kilometres west of Winnipeg near Portage la Prairie, was in lockdown for several hours after a man and woman were found shot at different locations.
“They [RCMP] were more interested in protecting the city of Portage la Prairie,” he said, referring to how officers patrolled the city schools while Tyson Pashe was still at large.
“We were like fodder, left out there.”
Call for a casino to solve problems
Stone, Nelson and Dennis Pashe said the community has been oppressed by the federal and provincial governments for years, which has led to extreme poverty and violence.
Stone used the controversy surrounding the shooting to call for the development of a casino on the reserve, saying it would “create employment for our people” and economic opportunities to help raise the community out of poverty.
“We are oppressed by extreme poverty that is why drugs and violence are flowing into our community,” Stone said, blaming funding cuts under Stephen Harper’s Conservative government and the unnamed “economic sanctions” by the provincial government.
“One of the problems it has created is people die,” Stone said.
He insisted the band has repeatedly tried to get the provincial and federal governments to address the problem but has been ignored.
Stone said his band has advocated for a casino for 25 years but has been prevented by the government. Tired of waiting, he said he will work with other Dakota First Nations to bring one to the reserve.
“We have sovereign rights. We want change,” he said. “We want the same opportunities that white people have outside our communities.”
“They [governments] just hate First Nations people having any source of their own revenue,” Dennis Pashe added.
It wasn’t until the end of the news conference that anyone spoke about the shooting victims.
Pashe had already identified them — both of whom survived — as his niece Gracie Prince, 31, and his brother Chris Pashe, 48.
Prince was shot twice in the abdomen, with one bullet hitting her liver, he said. She was in critical condition in hospital on Thursday. Chris Pashe was shot twice in the head.
“My brother’s not doing too well,” is all Pashe said.
Before ending the press conference, he and Stone said counsellors and other supports are being offered to people in the community.
Tyson Pashe, 31, is in police custody for the shootings though charges are still being finalized, RCMP said.