Métis People, the RCMP, and Reconciliation: Navigating History, Connecting with Community, and Creating Ethical Spaces to Start Again
By Merelda Fiddler-Potter, PhD. Candidate, October 2021
This Métis position paper was researched and written by PhD candidate Merelda Fiddler-Potter in October 2021. In it she asks the question, "
Is reconciliation between Métis people and the RCMP possible?" She has provided a response connecting history and contemporary efforts while examining what it will take to create a foundation for a new relationship.
This paper accompanies other research and will inform the development of the RCMP National Strategic Plan for reconciliation (anticipated to be produced in 2022). It also provides key insights from a Métis perspective to inform distinctions-based approaches for the RCMP as we continue to move forward with reconciliation efforts and building trust with Indigenous peoples.
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- Full report: Métis People, the RCMP, and Reconciliation: Navigating History, Connecting with Community, and Creating Ethical Spaces to Start Again
- Full Report – Michif: Li Michif, li RCMP, pi La pay kaw-oushtawhk: Chi mawhcheemakuhk Li tawn'd kayawsh, Katakoonaw avek A lawntour, pi Chioushistawhk Chi-ashpaymouhk Lispass chi Mawchistahk Kawhkeektwawm
In Métis People, the RCMP, and Reconciliation: Navigating History, Connecting with Community, and Creating Ethical Spaces to Start Again, Merelda Fiddler-Potter asks the question, "
Is reconciliation between Métis people and the RCMP possible?". Submitted in October 2021, this paper connects history, contemporary efforts, and examines what it will take to create a foundation for a new relationship.
For many, the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Final Report was the end of the truth telling and the beginning of the reconciliation efforts. At the time of writing this paper, 215 graves had been found at the Kamloops Indian Residential School, followed by another 751 more at Cowessess First Nation. These discoveries, and the many more that did and will follow, are a reminder the truth piece has not been completed in the Truth and Reconciliation process. This is also the case for the history of the Métis People and the RCMP. Acknowledging and sharing these truths, as well as the role of the then North West Mounted Police (NWMP) affirms Métis histories and experiences, demonstrates the RCMP's commitment to learning and sharing the truth, and helps foster a more meaningful reconciliation process.
Connecting with community
Through the National Action Plan, many recommendations have been made to improve and change how groups like the RCMP (and the Federal government and its departments and agencies) interact with Métis people and communities. In addition to this work, there are also numerous recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Final Report and Calls to Action, as well as the Final Report from the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry and its Calls to Justice. Many more lists of recommendations can also be found in additional reviews, reports, and other documents. However, the work the RCMP has already undertaken in Métis communities through specific programs and the experiences of Métis officers is largely unknown. Assessing what is being attempted, with what is being recommended, is key to charting a course ahead.
As Former Justice Murray Sinclair says, "
Reconciliation is not a spectator sport, you cannot sit back and wait for other people to do things," (CBC Radio, Unreserved, Sept. 25th, 2021). As such, this process is one which the RCMP will need to undertake with Métis people. The author recommends the following steps be taken to start this process.
- Create an historically accurate account of relations between Métis People and the RCMP from contact to present. This should be available to every Canadian via the RCMP website.
- Ensure culturally accurate training so all RCMP operational members and staff understand who Métis people are and how the Métis define themselves.
- Undertake an evaluation that looks at what has been asked of the RCMP, including calls from the TRC, MMIWG Inquiry, and goals laid out in the National Action Plan. This must include current RCMP initiatives and should be completed by an external body.
- Finally, a significant act of reconciliation would be to include a permanent monument on the F Division grounds in Regina, Saskatchewan where Louis Riel was hanged.
To build a strong relationship, Métis people and the RCMP need to meet each other on a human to human level, as outlined by Willie Ermine (1999) in the Ethical Space of Engagement. Acknowledging our entire history, as well as the more recent efforts of the RCMP, will help create that ethical space from which this process might finally be achieved.
Li Michif, li RCMP, pi La pay kaw-oushtawhk: Chi mawhcheemakuhk Li tawn'd kayawsh, Katakoonaw avek A lawntour , akwa Chi oushistawhk Chi-ashpaymouhk Lispass chi Mawchistahk Kawhkeektwawm, Merelda Fiddler-Potter kwaychihkaymou aen kesyoon, 'Si la pay kaw-oushtawhk awnter Li Michif pi li RCMP si posib?'. Kaw-miyikihk ishpee Oktobr 2021, ooma li papyee katakoon li tawn'd kayawsh, oushkawniwun koucheewin, akwa igzaminee kaykwuy chiitouschikawtayk chi oushistawhk la foondawsyoon poor neu wawhkoostoowin.
Chi mawhcheemakuhk Li tawn'd kayawsh
Poor mischayt, ooma pakitinikawtaywin ouschi La vayritee pi La pay kaw-oushtawhk Si li bout Weestamakaywin aykwawnima li daryeen ouschi la vayritee weestamawkaywin akwa aymawchistahk ouschi ooma la pay kaw-oushtawhk koucheewin. Ishpee kaw-mashnahikawtayk ooma li papyee, deu sawn kaenz 215 lee fous kimishkikawtaywa itay Kamloops Li Promyee Nawsyoon Itaykawweekihk L'ikol, pimichishahikawtayw ouschi kootak set sawn saenkawnt en 751 ayiwawk itay at Cowessess Li promyeen Nawsyoon. Oohin mishkikawtaywina, akwa meena mischayt kootak pi chipimichishahikawtaykihk, aykwawnima kishkishouwin ooma morsou'd la vayritee eka epoonischikawtayk didawn La vayritee pi La pay kaw-oushtawhk paminikaywin. Akwa meena avek poor ooma li tawn'd kayawsh ouschi Li Michif pi li RCMP. Nishtawinumowin pi aen pawr oohi li vayritee, akwa meena ishi atoushkaywin akoushpee ouschi Li NorWest Mounted Polis (NWMP) kakischee-itwayw aen Michif tawnshi aykeeshpayik kischi kayawsh akwa kishkayistamhowin, wawpastahiwayw li RCMP soon ahkamaymouwin chikishkayistahk pi aen pawr la vayritee, meena awnkourazhee ayiwawk miyou-awshin la pay kaw-oushtawhk paminikaywin.
Katakoonaw avek A lawntour
Shawpou ooma Tooroon not grawn piyee Itochikataywin aen Plawn, mischayt itayistumoowina kiouschikawtaywa poor nawut lee zaenproovmawn ashtawniwun akwa chi mayshkoohtashtak la bonch tapishkoot RCMP (pi Li Federal gouvarnimaw akwa meena see Li department pi la zhawnsree) mamowitouwuk avek Li Michif akwa a lawntour. Meena avek ooma atoushkaywin, ihtakwun mischayt kootaka itayistumoowina ouschi La vayritee pi La pay kaw-oushtawhk Si li bout Weestamakaywin pi Chi Mawhcheemakun Natoutamawin, akwa meena Si li bout Weestamakaywin ouschi Namataywak akwa Nipahawak Indigene Lee Faem pi Lee Fee Natounikaywin akwa Okwaychimiwayin ishi Zhuschis. Keeyapit mischayt mashinahikawtayw ouschi itayistumoowina chikee meena mishkikawtaywn didawn ayiwawk igzaminee, weestamakaywin, akwa kootaka li papyee. Mawka, atoushkayiwn ouschi Li RCMP awshay aymawchistahk didawn Michif a lawntour shawpou ispray paminikaywina akwa kishkayistamhowina Michif l'oflsyee namowiya kishkayishtawun. Igzaminee kaykwuy ka koucheehk, avek kaykwuy itayistumoowina, si kischee aykwawnihi il a disidee aen ptsi shmaen neekawnihk.
Ishi Kaktwawmi Zhuschis Murray Sinclair keeitwayw, "La pay kaw-oushtawhk namowiya aykwawnima mouschi kenawawpahchikaywin, namowiya chi mouschi apinaw akwa chi payhischik poor kootakak li moond chitootahkik kaykwuy," (CBC Li Radio, Unreserved, Septawmbr t. 25th, 2021). Oumsheeshi, ooma paminikaywin si payyek aykwawnima RCMP saprawn chimawchistat avek Li Michif. Omashinahikayw itayistum oohin kapimichishahikawtaykihk la sort kaweemawchistawhk ooma paminikaywin.
- Chi oushistawhk kaktwawmi kwarek nistwayr ouschi wawhkoostouwin awnter Li Michif akwa li RCMP ishpee nishtam ishko maykwawt. Ooma chikee ihtakwun ishi kuhkiyuw aen zhawnd Kenadaw shawpou li RCMP website
- Ekayschinahow si boon ka ishi pimatishahk chikishinahamawkayhk akousheeshi kahkiyuw RCMP kaw-atoushkaychik lee maambr akwa atoushkaywak nishtoustamwuk awiniki oki Li Michif akwa tawnsheeshi LI Michif kaw-itayimishoowak
- Aymawchistahk ka kochiwahpatahiwayhk aykwawnima nawkwun kaykwuy kakwaychihkaymou ouschi RCMP, avek kwaychimiwayin ouschi TRC, MMIWG Natounikaywin, akwa pakoshayimoowin kaw-ashchikawtayk didawn ooma Tooroon not grawn piyee Itochikataywin aen Plawn. Ooma pikou avek maykwawt RCMP shoohkayistamowin akwa chikee pooyounawniwun awiyek ouhpimaen ouschi
- Peeyish, kishkayistakwun itoutamowin ouschi la pay kaw-oushtawhk kee-ashtayw avek naashpichi la rosh didawn "F" Division la tayr didawn Regina, Saskatchewan akouta Louis Riel kee-akoutaw
Chioushistahk la fors wawhkoostoowin, Li Michif pi li RCMP pikou chinakishkawtouwuk ishi awnter l'istamaw aykwy-ikouhk, la diskripsyoon maykawtayw ouschi Willie Ermine (1999) didawn ooma Kaw-ashpaymouhk Lispass ouschi Pishkayimiwawn. Nishtawinawinum kahkiyuw li tawn'd kayawsh, akwa meena nawut maykwawt koucheewin ouschi RCMP, weechihiwayw chi-oushistawhk aykwawnima chi-ashpaymouhk lispass aykwawnima ouschi ooma paminikaywin piyish chikee pashpiwaypihtanaw.
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