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Finding Solace at the RCMP Academy

The RCMP Academy, “Depot” Division, is renowned in Canada and the world as an institution of excellence. Individuals from across the country come to the Academy as citizens and leave as Mounties with the skills and the ambition to keep Canada safe. To ensure every cadet has the chance to excel in training and the opportunity to serve as a member of the RCMP, Depot has made great strides in creating a more welcoming environment for anyone who is looking to join the Force.

A part of creating that accessible atmosphere is ensuring individuals of different faiths and cultures have the opportunity to continue practising while in training. Although the RCMP Chapel is nondenominational, it is a public space and many religions have rituals or require resources that make it impractical for practitioners to worship within its walls. To this end, an All Faith Room, a Quiet Room and an Aboriginal Heritage Room were created. The design concept for each of these rooms was to remain very basic in order to minimize the visibility of a single faith group while remaining easily adaptable for the many different faith members at Depot to participate in a mutually respectful, yet cooperative, manner.

Five holy books on a shelf

The All Faith Room, built in 2006 and located in C Block, features literature and paraphernalia from every major religion as well as a secluded room for private prayer. The Quiet Room, built in 2009 and located in the Applied Police Sciences Building, was originally constructed to accommodate Muslim cadets during Ramadan to ensure they could adhere to their prayer schedule without missing class. The room is first and foremost a place of peace as it can also easily be adapted to be non-faith based if all the cadet requires is a few moments of quiet meditation. The Aboriginal Room, built in 2009 and located in D Block, features pictures and artifacts significant to many of the different tribes and bands in Canada and has also been outfitted to accommodate smudging, or the burning of sacred herbs.

The Depot Chaplain, Jean Morisset, is the spiritual guide for all cadets regardless of faith and also has the responsibility of advising the Commanding Officer on spiritual matters related to the cadets. Morisset will also connect cadets with outside spiritual resources from around Regina if the cadet so chooses. “Everyone wants care,” Morisset says. “The wonderful thing about these rooms is [the cadets] get the care they want from the caregiver of their choosing. If a cadet requires prayers from different faiths during graduations, this can and will be done. If they would like company while they pray to the God of their choice, I will accompany them and help them find peace.

A cast iron pan with burnt herbs

Diversity at Depot, as it does in Canada, takes many shapes and comes in many forms. All new dormitories have been outfitted with several private showers not only for cadets who have to protect their modesty for religious or cultural reasons, but also for transgender cadets who may be uncomfortable with communal showering. Many buildings at Depot have also been retrofitted with gender-neutral bathrooms to ensure cadets can use the washroom comfortably.

The Stand Easy Mess has always been a place cadets can relax, have a drink and get to know one another away from the scrutiny of facilitators. Troops also throw halfway parties in the Stand Easy to celebrate completing half of their training and one cadet remembers having difficulty getting into the celebratory spirit. “In my culture, we don’t drink alcohol and I don’t begrudge any of my troop mates for drinking at all, but you can’t help but feel left out when you’re drinking pop and everyone else is drinking beer.

The cadet brought his concerns to the Diversity Committee and by the next week, the Stand Easy was carrying non-alcoholic beer. “It feels great to be heard! It was such a simple fix but it really means a lot for me just to be able to cheers my troop mates and have fun with them!

Every cadet comes to the RCMP Academy as a unique individual with a culture and a history and there is room for them all within the RCMP. As the Cradle of the Force, it is the responsibility of “Depot” Division to ensure the training environment is one that is inclusive to all the women and men who are willing to put in the work to become Mounties.