The RCMP serves more than 600 Indigenous communities across Canada — each of them unique in their culture, geography and needs.
In this issue, we look at the ways in which RCMP officers work every day to build trust and credibility with Indigenous Peoples in Canada, improve the health and safety of the communities they serve, and expand their own understanding of Indigenous history and present-day realities.
For our cover, Travis Poland writes about several initiatives in Manitoba where the RCMP serves many First Nations communities in remote locations.
In his first story, Poland looks at the RCMP's role in helping to evacuate the small community of Black Sturgeon Falls from an approaching wildfire in 2018. Officers credit their relationship with the community for helping the evacuation move smoothly — not just in 2018, but again last summer.
He also features a new drive-in policing model in northern Manitoba. The approach allows RCMP officers to have a full-time presence in the remote community of South Indian Lake, which sits within the O-Pipon-Na-Piwin Cree Nation. Increasing police visibility allows officers to build and maintain relationships with the community while preserving a sustainable work-life balance.
In his third piece, Poland writes about the RCMP Air Services Program that supports officers who work in remote locations. Air Services pilots in Manitoba fly officers and essential equipment into these communities, which may be accessible only by plane at certain times of the year. To call it a lifeline isn't an exaggeration.
As mentioned already, building relationships is an important first step in supporting Indigenous communities.
Paul Northcott writes about a productive partnership between the RCMP and the Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service, who have two liaison officers working together. The officers organize community events and safety presentations to address local concerns, but also take crucial steps toward reconciliation and healing.
Northcott also describes two initiatives in which RCMP officers help foster safety in the Indigenous communities they serve.
The first is a community-led safety plan being developed in New Brunswick. Residents of Esgenoopetitj First Nation have been holding open discussions with community partners, including police, to identify safety risks and design a tailored plan to address them.
In Port Alberni, B.C., RCMP have created a unit that works to help the most vulnerable in the Nuu-chah-nulth community. The Indigenous Safety Team is made up of three officers who work with the tribal council to find help and support for people living in the streets.
We also feature stories about the ways in which RCMP cadets are learning more about Indigenous history to prepare them for policing in the present, and how officers are getting involved in projects that support community resilience, strong families and Indigenous identity.
We close our issue with the story of one officer's personal reconciliation project.
RCMP Cpl. El Sturko's late great-uncle, RCMP Sgt. Robert David Van Norman, was forced to leave the RCMP in 1964 when the organization found out he was gay. Sturko is remembering her great-uncle's passionate work among the Inuit in the High Arctic in 1950 by digitizing his personal journal and photographs of his posting. Once published, she hopes to present the journal to the Inuit community where Van Norman once served.
Acknowledging change is important. We hope this issue sheds light on some of the genuine and caring work being done by RCMP officers in partnership with the Indigenous communities they serve.
Changes to Gazette magazine
Gazette magazine is moving toward more online stories and digital products.
Starting in 2020, we will be printing the paper magazine two times a year — in spring and in fall. While we are reducing the number of copies we distribute and the frequency of the print product, that doesn't mean there will be fewer stories.
We're proud to continue providing all our award-winning content on our website, where we are publishing new stories every week. If you haven't seen it, Gazette magazine's website is easy to read, searchable, accessible and available on mobile devices. You can find us on Infoweb or RCMP.ca under the A-Z index.
And stay tuned in 2020 for a brand new look to make it even easier for you to view the stories you enjoy online.