Steinbach MLA and Justice Minister Kelvin Goertzen, announced that Manitoba is investing $1.3 million to support the Community Safety and Well-Being (CSWB) Planning Pilot Project to develop local CSWB plans and implement local safety priorities in 12 Manitoba communities, including Steinbach.

“Research shows that community safety and well-being planning supports a collaborative approach to addressing local priority risks to safety and well-being by establishing programs and strategies in four planning areas including social development, prevention, risk intervention and incident response,” said Goertzen. “This proactive planning process can help communities reduce crime and other risks using evidenced-based responses that address unique local circumstances and the needs of residents.”

The CSWB Planning Pilot Project will focus on 12 Manitoba communities includingSteinbach, Portage la Prairie, Dauphin, Selkirk, Swan River and The Pas.

As well, the funding will support pilot projects in six First Nations communities across Manitoba. In addition, the Manitoba government will partner with Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) so MKO can deliver this program in two more First Nations communities in northern Manitoba.

“This is consultation and reconciliation in action,” said Goertzen. “Reconciliation is a priority for this governmentand we are committed to listening to Indigenous leaders, partners and elders, and putting reconciliation commitments into action.”

“It is MKO’s vision that the MKO First Nations are the safest place for our citizens to live,” said Grand Chief Garrison Settee, MKO. “Minister Goertzen and I have been working closely together with the officials and staff of Manitoba Justice and MKO to develop and implement – in real time – enhanced approaches to community safety and well-being in the MKO First Nations.”

In all, the MKO First Nations of Cross Lake, Northlands Denesuline, Sayisi Dene, Sapotaweyak and Manto Sipi will participate in the CSWB initiative. The St. Theresa Point, Sandy Bay and Peguis First Nations will also benefit from this funding.

“In particular, MKO and Manitoba have been collaborating to operationalize the protocol for the enforcement and adjudication of First Nation laws and bylaws that has been entered into between the MKO First Nations, RCMP and the Public Prosecution Service of Canada,” said Settee. “These partnerships between Manitoba and MKO are all part of the ‘whole-of-government response’ being called for by MKO. This whole-of-government response incorporates targeted enforcement with restorative justice processes that lead to healing and wellness supports with the guidance of elders and involvement of land-based cultural opportunities.”

The CSWB Planning Pilot Project aligns with Manitoba’s Policing and Public Safety Strategy announced in May 2019, which identified the need to focus on communities with high rates of violence, alleviate extraneous demands on police and enhance community mobilization, the minister noted.

The Manitoba government is providing $100,000 to expand community mobilization to Waywayseecappo First Nation and the City of Morden. Community mobilization connects at-risk youth and families to social services to ensure they are receiving appropriate supports and interventions.

The Manitoba government is also providing $20,000 to support the Wawokiya Community Mobilization Initiatives Targeted Engagement Strategy in Portage la Prairie. This partnership will co-ordinate police and community services to provide structured responses to individual needs for those in crisis and reduce overall risk to the community, noted the minister.