Indigenous young adults interested in a policing career can get a taste of what it's like with the RCMP's Indigenous Pre-Cadet Training Program (IPTP).
The program brings a handful of young Indigenous Canadians to the RCMP's training academy, Depot, in Regina each year. For three weeks, they learn what it's like working as a police officer, the ins-and-outs of RCMP training and how to prepare for the force's fitness test.
It gives Indigenous youth the opportunity to experience a training session and a first-hand view of what a possible career in police work could entail," says Cpl. Maureen Greyeyes-Brant, who coordinates the program. "
The program opens your eyes and gives you the self confidence and the know-how to move forward and decide if this is the career for you," says Greyeyes-Brant, who also participated in the program in 1999. "
For me, it was a yes."
Throughout their stay, participants, aged 19 to 29, learn about various RCMP career specializations, study policing techniques and meet with Indigenous RCMP officers from across Canada. They earn a stipend for the duration of the program, and their room and board costs are covered. Since the program's launch in 1994, approximately 50 participants have become RCMP officers and two dozen more work for the RCMP as civilian members or public service employees.
RCMP Sgt. Heather McLean, who has been police officer for 24 years, credits the program for steering her toward a career in policing.
In 1994, after another summer job fell through, she applied for the program, which was then named the Aboriginal Youth Training Program.
After finishing at Depot and working at a local RCMP detachment over the summer, she decided a policing career was right for her and applied to the RCMP.
If it wasn't for the program, I probably wouldn't be doing this career," says McLean, who has worked as a general duty police officer, an instructor at Depot and now a detachment commander in Sheshatshiu, Labrador.
It was great to see these people brought together from across the country and from various Indigenous groups," says McLean. "
I had no idea what training entailed. It was neat to do things like drills and you felt a pride in the uniform that they're allowing you to wear."
S/Sgt. Troy Bennett had childhood dreams of being a police officer and as a 19-year-old participated in the program cementing his career choice.
Raised in a small Indigenous community and having never left Newfoundland, Bennett was unsure that the job was right for him.
Going to Depot was a big culture shock for me coming from small-town Newfoundland," he says. "
When I first saw the training and everything it blew my mind."
After his experience at Depot and meeting with RCMP officers from across the country, he knew the job was right for him.
It struck me seeing myself in that uniform for the first time and at that moment I realized this is a possibility," says Bennett, who has been with the force for 21 years. He's worked in general duty policing, customs and border enforcement and major crimes before his current role as District Commander with the Bay St. George district RCMP in Stephenville, Newfoundland.
Although the program that helped get him to this point has changed over the years – when McLean and Bennett participated, there was also an opportunity for summer work at an RCMP detachment – it continues to be a great opportunity.
I thought I couldn't do it and today I'm the district commander at the detachment I was a summer student at back in 1998," Bennett says proudly.
To get more information or to learn how to apply to the Indigenous Pre-Cadet Training Program, please email the National Coordinator, Cpl Maureen Greyeyes Brant, RCMP Indigenous Relations Services at firstname.lastname@example.org.