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National Chief Perry Bellegarde says he's waiting for action on racism in RCMP

Last Updated Oct 28, 2020 at 3:45 pm MST

Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

OTTAWA — National Chief Perry Bellegarde of the Assembly of First Nations says he looks forward to learning more about how Public Safety Minister Bill Blair and RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki plan to address systemic racism in the national police force.

Last Friday, Bellegarde said he had “lost confidence” in Lucki after months of unrest and urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to replace her with “someone who will focus their attention on public safety and combating racism.”

The call for her resignation came as the RCMP has faced heavy criticism for its response to violence toward a disputed Mi’kmaq moderate livelihood lobster fishery in Nova Scotia.

Bellegarde now says that he had a brief conversation with Blair on Monday, but he has not had “formal communications” with the federal government or the RCMP on the issue.

Pressed in the House of Commons Wednesday to explain how he still has confidence in Lucki, Trudeau said the RCMP has not always treated racialized and Indigenous people fairly.

He said he looked forward to working with the commissioner to bring forward “meaningful change” to ensure the police treat all people with dignity and respect.

Mary-Liz Power, a spokeswoman for Blair, said says Public Safety Canada is aware of Bellegarde’ request.

She says the department will work with him to achieve progress and that police services need listen and learn from the perspectives of Indigenous people.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 28, 2020.

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

The Canadian Press