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A group of young people and a male RCMP officer look at a patch of soil on the ground.

Northern kids learn about policing at youth camp

Some RCMP officers in the Northwest Territories organized a youth camp in the community of Whatì. Credit: RCMP


RCMP officers in Whatì, N.W.T., helped a group of young people learn some of the finer details of police investigations.

"They do a lot of work in different types of things and it was cool to see up close," says Anna Naedzo, one of several people who participated in the three-day youth camp in July.

The town of about 450 people is a fly-in community located 165 kilometres northwest of Yellowknife.

Cst. Carman Dutz helped create the experience for young people so they could get some exposure to policing with the RCMP.

"We put together an itinerary that we thought would be fun," says Dutz, noting the camp was held outside due to concerns about COVID-19 and was well within the outdoor gathering limits established by the Territory's public health officer.

During the camp, officers created mock crime scenes — a homicide and an impaired driving investigation — and then showed Whatì youth how they could be solved. The kids were responsible for crime-scene identification, exhibit control, interviewing, conducting an arrest and other police work.

An RCMP recruiter also attended the camp.

Cpl. Charmaine Parenteau says some of the kids asked about the officers' own policing experiences. There were questions about what it would take to join the RCMP, and if they could return to their communities should they join the RCMP.

"The youth have a vital role in the future of our organization as the next generation of members," says Parenteau. So any chance I can talk with them and be with them, I take it," she says.

The initiative also took shape amidst the challenges faced by young people in northern communities and growing calls for police reform throughout North America.

"Even to write the test for the RCMP, they have to go to another community, and many leave for high school," says Dutz. "We have a very vibrant community and a close relationship with people here. People know us and we never want to lose that connection."

Naedzo, a Grade 11 student, says the event exposed her and her friends to more information about policing.

"It was fun to see how many different things they do, act them out and see the opportunities that exist as a police officer," says Naedzo.

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