The events following the tragic death of Colten Boushie impacted many of us in Saskatchewan and across Canada. A young man's life was tragically lost and our thoughts continue to be with Colten Boushie's family and community.
"In February 2018, the RCMP approached the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission (CRCC) and asked it to consider conducting an independent review of RCMP employees' actions as they executed their duties during the investigation into Colten Boushie's death," said RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki. "The findings and recommendations made by the CRCC are important as they contribute to the enhancement of public confidence in the RCMP. We believe thorough, independent review of our actions plays a valuable role in ensuring our accountability and transparency. The RCMP remains committed to ensuring the service we provide meets the expectations of the Indigenous communities and people we serve."
"Since receiving the interim reports, the Saskatchewan RCMP Senior Management Team has carefully reviewed the CRCC's findings and recommendations and has committed to fully implementing all the recommendations," said Saskatchewan RCMP Acting Commanding Officer, Chief Superintendent, Alfredo Bangloy. "We have implemented 16 of the 17 recommendations that fall within the authority of the Saskatchewan RCMP and we are on track to complete the remaining recommendation by April 1, 2021 which is when all Saskatchewan RCMP employees will have successfully completed the Cultural Awareness and Humility course."
As supported by the CRCC's final report, the actions taken by the officers responding on that day in August 2016, as well as the days following, were done with the best of intentions; their priority was to ensure public safety and to complete a thorough homicide investigation and lay charges in relation to Colten Boushie's death.
While officers were able to ensure no one else was injured and that someone was charged and brought before the courts, there were other aspects of our actions that were being questioned by the family of Colten Boushie, the general public, and key Indigenous stakeholders. This was why the RCMP requested the CRCC conduct a thorough and independent review of the conduct of RCMP employees in the execution of their duties against applicable training, policies, procedures, guidelines, and statutory requirements.
"Prior to the report being completed, the Saskatchewan RCMP had taken several steps which address many of the report's findings," said Chief Superintendent, Alfredo Bangloy. "We are committed to reconciliation efforts in the Province and to continue our efforts to strengthen our relationships with Indigenous people. In 2018, we committed to holding the four Feasts and Round Dances honouring Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons and we have held three so far, with the final one planned for 2021; we worked with community members to develop and implement our Reconciliation Strategy in 2019 which has been used as a model in other provinces; we implemented mandatory Cultural Awareness and Humility training; and we ensured officers and employees are familiar with local cultural events and ceremonial gatherings. In 2018, we began working towards being able to provide victims, witnesses, suspects and police officers at detachments across the province with the option of swearing legal oaths on an Eagle Feather. In June 2020, we were proud to receive our Eagle Feathers through a traditional handover ceremony during which we received the teachings of the eagle from an Elder."
We are encouraged to see the changes we made in September 2016 to our communications protocols have been recognized by the CRCC and will be implemented at the national level. We conducted a review of our processes after concerns were raised by the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations about the media releases we issued relating to Colten Boushie's death. Our review resulted in modifications to our process for writing media releases to include consultation with the Saskatchewan RCMP Indigenous Policing Services unit for all serious incidents involving Indigenous people.
The CRCC interim report states that "the RCMP's investigation of Mr. Boushie's death was conducted in a professional manner by adequately trained and experienced criminal investigators employing the MCM (Major Case Management) methodology."
"There have been many outstanding questions relating to the actions of our officers. While the court process unfolded and the CRCC completed their reviews, we could not answer many of these questions," said Chief Superintendent, Alfredo Bangloy. "We believe this report addresses these outstanding questions and we support the role of the CRCC. It is our hope that the report and the steps we have taken to implement the recommendations reinforces our commitment to transparency and accountability to the people we serve."
We have acknowledged that systemic racism exists in the RCMP. We are committed to listening and respecting the lived experiences of others and continuing to learn from these conversations. This acknowledgement and commitment to Canadians, along with the steps we have taken to address the CRCC's recommendations, are important parts of the ongoing process of reconciliation. We are unwavering in our commitment to reconciliation and reviewing the impact of our policies and procedures on the people we serve to ensure the service we provide meets the needs of Indigenous communities.