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Sarnia and Aamjiwnaang sign updated agreement on policing

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Jake Romphf

The Aamjiwnaang First Nation community and Sarnia Police have updated a service agreement that hadn’t been changed since 1989.

“The policing agreement just ensures that we do have the policing services for our community,” said band Chief Rogers.

“I thought it would be a good idea to bring the city together with our community and review it.”

Aamjiwnaang pays about $117,000 annually for city police servicing.

Rogers said the update ends the cycle of being invoiced each year with no communication between the two communities.

“This will be there to make sure there’s a dialogue on a regular basis,” she said.

Rogers signed the agreement with Mayor Mike Bradley, who chairs the Sarnia Police Services Board, in front of band council, police Chief Norm Hansen and his predecessor Phil Nelson.

The July 10 ceremony at the Maawn Doosh Gumig Community Centre brought together band council and police board for the first time, something that will continue annually under the new agreement.

“The best way to do reconciliation is to actually do something instead of just talking about it,” Bradley said.

Another change saw the word ‘reserve’ replaced by ‘community.’

“It’s a word that does not represent this area for what it is, so that was eliminated from this agreement,” said Bradley. “Its archaic and it’s the wrong term to use.”

Bradley noted Sarnia is one of only two Canadian municipalities with a First Nation located inside its boundaries.

Rogers said the agreement also addresses the issue of Aamjiwnaang service roads not maintained by the city.

“Police are always hesitant and don’t really know if they have jurisdiction to come on to those sections in our community.”

She said an already strong relationship has benefitted from having a designated liaison officer. The liaison officer can be called if a specific issue needs attention, such as speeding on the River Road, a community safety zone.

Chief Rogers, who is not seeking re-election at the July 20 band elections, was appointed by Ontario to a two-year term on the police board in March.

Sarnia and Aamjiwnaang signed new water and sewer service agreements in recent years, and have a date set to update fire protection.

Rogers said Aamjiwnaang would also like to explore regular Sarnia Transit service.

“We’d love to see it come through our community.”

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