MKO Grand Chief Sette Advocates for Dignity in Shoplifting Apprehensions

Responding to the growing incidents of shoplifting driven by poverty and economic hardship, the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) emphasizes the need for a compassionate and transparent approach to address these challenges.

While condemning criminal activities, MKO Grand Chief Garrison Settee underscores the importance of treating all individuals, especially women, with dignity and respect during apprehensions.

Grand Chief Settee stresses, “It’s crucial to approach these situations with sensitivity and care, acknowledging that shoplifting often stems from profound desperation and systemic issues.”

Echoing these sentiments, Island Lake Anisininew Okimawin Grand Chief Scott Harper voices deep concern over a recent social media video dated June 5, 2024, which depicts the forceful removal of a handcuffed woman by two men into a secluded area. Harper highlights the trauma such actions inflict on Indigenous communities.

“The sight of such incidents is deeply troubling to our people,” Harper remarks. “For generations, our women have faced restraint and coercion due to historical injustices. Isolating individuals behind closed doors without accountability only perpetuates this cycle of fear and trauma.”

MKO stands united with Grand Chief Harper and the Anisininew Nation in advocating for the safety and respectful treatment of First Nation women during apprehensions.

Furthermore, the recent incident underscores concerning practices within the store. The willingness of store employees to take this young Indigenous woman into a closed-door setting without witnesses or additional safety measures raises significant concerns.

“We understand the need to address shoplifting, but it’s crucial that employees prioritize protecting individuals and preventing any potential allegations,” Grand Chief Settee asserts. “This incident should prompt a broader conversation about compassion and support for those struggling with poverty.”

This incident serves as a reminder that compassion must guide our actions, especially towards those facing hardship. MKO calls for greater efforts to alleviate poverty and provide support to those in need, while maintaining accountability and dignity for all involved.

To ensure the safety and dignity of all individuals involved, MKO urges retailers to implement the following measures:

  • Respectful Apprehension: Treat all individuals suspected of shoplifting with dignity and respect, avoiding the use of force unless absolutely necessary.
  • Witness Presence: Ensure that a witness, particularly a female employee or third party, is present during any interactions in private spaces.
  • Transparency and Accountability: Establish clear procedures for handling shoplifting incidents, including the use of surveillance cameras and documentation of interactions.
  • Training and Awareness: Provide comprehensive training to staff on handling shoplifting incidents with sensitivity and understanding of underlying issues.
  • Support Services: Offer information on support services and resources to individuals struggling with poverty and hardship as alternatives to punitive measures.

Grand Chief Settee concludes by reaffirming MKO’s commitment to advocating for the fair treatment of all individuals and addressing the root causes of poverty and crime. “Together, we can build a community where compassion and support prevail,” he asserts.

These proposed measures aim to protect vulnerable individuals while fostering a more compassionate and just society. MKO believes that by adopting these principles, communities can work towards a respectful and humane approach to addressing shoplifting and its underlying causes.