Vol. 81, No. 2Detachment profile

Male RCMP officer in a reflective vest stands on a snowy highway and speaks to the male driver of a truck/car.

Canada's western edge

Small-town work doesn't mean slow days

RCMP officers who work in communities such as Beaver Creek, Yukon, can expect busy days and a wide variety of calls for service. Credit: RCMP


Tucked away near the Yukon-Alaska border is the RCMP's western-most detachment of Beaver Creek.

Surrounded by rugged and beautiful scenery in a remote part of Canada, Beaver Creek detachment looks like a quiet place to work. However, officers' stories about their work life — serving a huge region with a small population — tell a different story.

"Oh, there's lots to do, and it's not like you're sitting behind a desk all day," says Cst. Jerome Lacasse, who notes the tourist population booms during the summer. "That adds to the workload."

Beaver Creek is secluded from other Yukon towns. It's located almost 300 kilometers north of Haines Junction and more than 450 kilometers from Whitehorse. The town's main employers include the Canada Border Services Agency, the White River First Nation and a number of tourist lodges that serve outdoor enthusiasts.

Helping people

It's a small place in a big land. But that's what Cpl. Kim MacKellar, the detachment commander, enjoys about the area.

"I like small-town Canada. I like the winters up here and that's part of the attraction — the life you lead during and after work," says MacKellar, who has served all over the Yukon. "Here, we have a responsibility for pretty much everything in the community."

There are requests to help residents with cutting wood, pulling cars out of snow banks, breaking trail and wild animals in the community, among other issues.

There are also calls to help locate missing hunters, hikers and travellers.

"They (the detachment officers) are the only show in town when it comes to search and rescue or to assist the general public along the busy Alaska Highway," says Insp. Lindsay Ellis, the district commander for the Yukon RCMP.

But that doesn't mean Beaver Creek doesn't see a few unusual occurrences.

The detachment is close to the Canada-U.S. border so that means, on occasion, there are "runners," says MacKellar.

Sometimes people cross without documentation, accidentally or on purpose.

In 2014, MacKellar says a man from Eastern Europe crossed into Canada from the United States and was then apprehended — carrying a loaded hand gun. "He was arrested and deported afterwards," says MacKellar.

Ellis says the challenges of working in a place like Beaver Creek are no different than many isolated posts in the RCMP.

The important thing, says Ellis, is to remember the opportunities that exist to "positively influence a community every day."

She also credits MacKellar — who is set to retire in June 2019 — for his role in serving the region.

"Cpl. MacKellar has been a huge part of community policing in Yukon, not only to Beaver Creek, but the adjacent detachment of Haines Junction, where he has worked and lived for the last 15 years," says Ellis.

Remote but rewarding

While some officers work their entire careers in Yukon, it isn't for everyone.

Lacasse offers advice to newly graduated constables who may be interested in a posting to Beaver Creek: "I'd say wait."

"The new graduates are so tech-savvy and focused on many aspects of policing, they're probably not ready for a posting like this right away," he says. "Coming up here too soon might be difficult. Life is different here than in the south, but the rewards are great."

Lacasse adds that for any new officer arriving, it doesn't take long to get to know everyone and become part of the community.

"Within two or three months, I think everyone knew who I was," says Laccase, who at 30 is the junior member of the three-officer detachment.

Ellis also says that officers must remember to depend on one another.

"They need to problem solve without infinite resources and be willing to be flexible and demonstrate innovation," says Ellis. "And they need to rely on the relationships they develop within the community."

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