WINNIPEG – A well respected advocate in Winnipeg’s First Nations community has been removed from the city’s police board.
The provincial government is replacing Leslie Spillett with a woman who ran unsuccessfully for them in the spring election, Allie Szarkiewicz. Spillett says she learned of her ousting on Facebook and didn’t want to do an interview, but provided us with the following unedited comment.
“I was not notified by the province of its decision to revoke my 4 year appointment to the WPB.
I found out on Facebook.
That I was not given that courtesy is disappointing.
First, I appreciate completely that this is the prerogative of the Palister government and consistent with how new governments work.
I am very honoured to have had the opportunity to be involved in the establishment of the WPB from its inception. Winnipeg was the last major city in Canada that did not have civilian governance and the community, and in particular the Indigenous community had long advocated for civilian oversight of Winnipeg’s Police Service. I believe that my appointment gave many in Winnipeg’s Indigenous community members confidence that its voice would be reflected in decision making processes.
I believe that over the past three years, I was able to share a perspective and experience that many of my colleagues did not have and that my involvement helped to shape the first strategic plan (i.e. setting ambitious targets for new Indigenous recruits, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls) and led to the establishment of a representative and community based Indigenous Advisory Circle.
One regret of not having the opportunity to complete my term is not being able to complete the hiring process to select the next Chief; the most significant leadership position in the WPS and one that will impact significantly on the Indigenous community.
I have utmost respect for the members of WPB and its staff. I don’t think that many people appreciate the enormous amount of time that being on the WPB requires – sometimes up to 20 – 30 hours a week. The WPB members are very committed to the governance process, want the best policing service for the community and the Service and it was a pleasure to serve with them.”
Also joining the board is businessman Larry Licharson. He replaces Angeline Ramkisson – a retired school principal.
The Board is designed to be a way for City Hall to oversee the police force but the province gets to pick two members.
They usually serve four year terms.
680 CJOB has asked the province to explain the reason for the changes in its appointees. The following statement was provided to us on behalf of Heather Stefanson, Minister of Justice.
“Our government is working hard to assemble a versatile and experienced group of appointees who will bring valuable input to the direction of the province’s multiple boards. Serving on the board of the Winnipeg Police Service is a tremendous responsibility and one that will be carried out with integrity by the new provincial appointees, Larry Licharson and Alicja Szarkiewicz.
Mr. Licharson brings a wealth of business acumen as the owner/manager of a number of local businesses. He is an active member of the community, serving on numerous boards and committees including the Manitoba Aids Shelter Foundation and Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre.
Ms. Szarkiewicz’s vast experience as an educator will serve the board well in this role as will her knowledge of the local community, and her proven ability to conduct outreach to young people and new Canadians. She has served on a number of boards and advisory panels and is currently actively involved with the Patient & Family Advisory Council for Grace General Hospital and the Assiniboine Library Advisory Council.
Our government looks forward to working with these experienced Manitoba leaders and we thank the former members of the board for their service.”