Earlier this week, I made the statement that I did not believe there was systemic racism within the RCMP or Canadian policing. I expressed my belief that racism is found in all aspects of society, in our institutions and in our police services.
I acknowledged that this was also true of the RCMP. I also indicated that we had a duty to listen closely to our citizens and communities, and more than ever, we need to learn and understand, challenge our assumptions, recognize racism for what it is and, most importantly, hold our employees and organization accountable for racist attitudes and behavior.
Since making these statements I have had conversations with community and Indigenous leaders who are members of my own Indigenous Advisory Committee; heard from employees of the RCMP, and spoken with colleagues and other police chiefs. Much of that conversation has centered on racism, how it is defined and what it means to those affected.
These have been conversations that have challenged my perceptions and have made it clear that systemic racism does exist in the RCMP.
My statement earlier this week was not intended to minimize the experiences some people have endured in working within or interacting with the systems and policies of the RCMP.
I have also reflected on the fact that my perspective on systemic racism comes from a place of observation rather than experience, and that my understanding of the personal effects of that would not be reflective of lived experiences of those who are racially diverse in their self-identification.
When making these statements, the professional, compassionate, diverse and hard-working employees of the Alberta RCMP were at front of mind for me. People who work diligently and selflessly to keep citizens safe, police officers and employees who work earnestly with Indigenous and diverse communities to foster environments of understanding, collaboration and open minds. People that I stand behind and support.
It is clear there is much work to be done in policing. We need to continue to gain deeper understanding, to challenge unconscious bias and to continue pushing our systems – and ourselves – to ensure inclusivity, balance, respect and equality in all aspects of our service.
Curtis Zablocki, M.O.M