by Lloyd Dolha
The RCMP have identified a 21-year-old man who was shot and killed by officers on a reserve southeast of Regina.
Mounties say Chase Kenneth Wilfred McKay of the White Bear First Nation died Saturday June 14th after police went to the reserve following a domestic dispute call. Police have said McKay was armed with a knife at the time of the incident, which occurred outside a home.
The shooting has prompted Chief Lawrence Joseph, head of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, to raise questions about the policing of aboriginal people.
Chief Joseph is demanding a meeting with Canada’s public safety minister, to talk about what he calls “Rambo-style” policing after RCMP shot and killed Mckay at the White Bear First Nation reserve.
Joseph, said in an interview that the latest shooting on the reserve near Carlyle, Sask., has raised questions about the policing of aboriginal people – something he says Stockwell Day, should be concerned about as minister for public safety.
“There’s got to be more presence of not necessarily Rambo-style policing, but peace officers to keep an eye on communities to make sure our children, old people and communities are safe,” Joseph said from his home in Prince Albert, Sask.
Sgt. Carole Raymond said police were called to a residence in the community just before 6:30 a.m., local time, Saturday to a report of a domestic dispute.
While she said the details of what happened next are still under investigation, she confirmed the man was shot outside a home on the reserve.
When asked whether the man was threatening officers with a knife, Raymond said that is still under investigation.
She also would not confirm how many times he may have been shot.
Joseph said they’ve made repeated requests to meet with Day, but those requests have been declined.
He said there’s a history of an “us versus them” mindset among aboriginal communities and police and the tension between the two has led to too many deadly confrontations.
“In general terms, in situations across the country, it appears to be the first option is to apply lethal force and I’m reluctant to see that as the only option.”
“There’s got to be other ways of detaining people in crisis, whether they’re armed or not. There’s got to be a better way to deal with situations like this,” he said.
Brenda Standingready, 52, an aunt of the deceased man, says there’s anger and shock in the community over the shooting of her nephew – a death she says might have been avoided had police used less lethal means to defuse the situation.
Standingready, said tensions with RCMP have been simmering in the community since the early 1990s, when police raided what was then among the province’s first native-run casinos.
The image of casino employees, some of them young people, being forced to lay on the floor at gunpoint during the raid is still a source of anger, she said.
Raymond, who acknowledged that RCMP have a sometimes tense history with the reserve, said emotions are running high in the wake of the shooting.
That’s why it’s important for all sides to communicate, she said.
The detachment and district commanders have discussed the situation with the chief of the First Nation and other officials in the community, she said.
“This is a stressful situation,” Raymond said.
Last year, two aboriginal people were shot by Saskatoon police, one of them fatally.
But the incidents most responsible for problems between police and aboriginal people were sparked by the freezing deaths of several Saskatoon-area men, including a 17-year-old, in 1990.
A race relations report released by the Saskatoon Police Commission in March 2006 identified a need for aboriginal liaison officers, diversity training and ongoing training for anger management and dispute resolution.
An officer with the Regina police force has been appointed to oversee the investigation.