Winnipeg Police Board may dissolve Indigenous advisory council, focus on representation on board itself

The Winnipeg Police Board may dissolve its Indigenous advisory council and ensure there's better Indigenous representation on the board itself.

'I would really like to see people sitting at the same table,' says new police board chair Coun. Kevin Klein

Police board chair Kevin Klein (Charleswood-Tuxedo) said he'd like to see better Indigenous representation on the civilian oversight body. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

The Winnipeg Police Board may dissolve its Indigenous advisory council and ensure there's better Indigenous representation on the board itself.

New police board chair Kevin Klein, the rookie city councillor for Charleswood-Tuxedo, said Friday the board is about to review the mandate of its 11-member Indigenous Council on Policing and Crime Prevention.

Klein said the council's initial three-year mandate is coming to an end. He said the council could be changed or dissolved in favour of ensuring more Indigenous Winnipeggers are appointed to the police board.

"I would really like to see people sitting at the same table. I don't think we necessarily need to have two different ones. Maybe we do, but it would be nice to see more inclusion right at the table," Klein said following his first police board meeting.

Friday's meeting also happened to be the final one for longtime board members Barry Tuckett and Mary Jane Brownscombe.

Their departures, along with the death of former board member Larry Licharson, mean there are now three vacancies on the board. The province is responsible for filling one of the vacancies, while the city must fill the two others.

Brownscombe's departure leaves Klein, who has an Ontario Mé​tis card, as the only board member who identifies as Indigenous.

Earlier this week, Mayor Brian Bowman said he did not believe it is important to ensure the city appointees are Indigenous.

"I don't think you need to be Indigenous to help provide oversight for a more inclusive city," the mayor said.

The province created municipal police boards in part to ensure communities heavily affected by policing have a role in overseeing police services.

Klein said he intends to speak to the mayor about the importance of Indigenous representation on the board.

"I think having representation is important," Klein said.