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Empowering Youth at Depot

Almost every week, a new generation of cadets arrive at Depot while another new generation of members leave. Cadets come from all over Canada and from all walks of life. Some arrive having just graduated high school while others have left a career behind in order to become a member. Although they may come from different places, they all have the same dream of being a Mountie and for many of them that dream began when they were just a child.

Empowering and inspiring youth is an important priority for the RCMP which Depot Division is in a unique position to work towards. This last year, Depot Division hosted three unique youth workshops that laid the foundation for the next generation of cadets. Youth have the opportunity to access the entire history of the Force and learn of the traditions and customs that make the RCMP extraordinary while experiencing an authentic, if condensed, cadet experience.

National Youth Engagement Week

National Youth Engagement Week attendees stand at attention in the Drill Hall.

In October of 2016, Depot Division welcomed 32 high school students from across Canada for National Youth Engagement Week. The students were selected from provinces across Canada based on their academic achievement, community engagement and a demonstrated interest in law enforcement.

The students slept in dorms, took their meals in the mess and enthusiastically participated in different aspects of the Cadet Training Program over the course of the week. The group was given an inside look into a regular training week by taking part in simulated driving and firearms instruction, fitness modules and even an introductory drill class.

Learning to march is a hallmark of what makes the RCMP unique in the field of law enforcement, which one of the students was quick to point out. “When I think of Mounties, I think of the red serge and the marching and it’s so cool that we got to try it! It was hard but I liked that we could see a more senior troop do it because after we had tried it we understood how hard it is and why it’s important part of being a member.

Supt. Mike Côté, Director of Strategic Partnerships and Heritage Branch, accompanied the group throughout the week and was impressed by the students enthusiasm and passion. “National Youth Engagement Week provided Canadian students with an important learning opportunity to understand the type of training RCMP members have to go through. I commend these students for their dedication and for exploring a career in law enforcement.

National Youth Leadership Workshops

National Youth Leadership Workshop attendees pose on the steps of the A.B. Perry Building.

In February and again in November of 2016, Depot Division hosted 16 Indigenous youth in Youth Leadership Workshops focussed on creating action plans to help solve social issues within their communities in youth-led police-supported workshops. The 32 youth were selected based on their interest in law enforcement and their demonstrated commitment to bring positive social change to their communities.

The students were also accompanied by a regular member from their community who was to assist the students in the creation of action plans as well as their implementation once they return to their community. This was an invaluable bonding opportunity for the group. The police officers relived their cadet experience while at Depot and were also able to be open and honest about the realities of policing. This opened the conversation for the youth to talk about the issues they face in their communities every day.

Before they had arrived, the youth had identified key issues within their communities that their action plans would address such as alcohol and drug abuse, family violence, bullying and suicide. Speakers and resources from different backgrounds were mobilized from within Depot as well as the surrounding community to give the group perspective on their identified issues and by the end of the week, the completed action plans were to be presented to the group. In November, the presentations were given to the Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale himself, who commended the group for their efforts, calling it an excellent learning opportunity. Goodale said in a statement, “Youth play an integral role in shaping the future of our communities and taking part in this workshop is an excellent first step in the right direction.

At the end of the week, the group were not only empowered to make a positive change but they were now equipped with the tools to put their plans into action.

Each of these groups came to Depot as individuals and left as a troop. They were immersed into the Depot community surrounded by cadets who were learning just like them. They learned the value of hard work and professionalism, being accountable and taking responsibility. In short, they learned the core values of being a part of the RCMP.