Thank you for meeting with us today. I acknowledge and respect that we are standing on the traditional territory of the people of Kwanlin Dün First Nation and Ta'an Kwächän Council.
We have come together today to acknowledge the life of Ms. Tootsie Jimmy-Charlie and pay respect to her family, who have spent the last 50 years searching for more information surrounding her death.
The RCMP has shared a great deal of history with First Nations communities across Yukon. And while much of that history has been well-intended and positive, there have been troubling times as well. This is one of those times.
As difficult as it is for me to address you on an occasion such as this, I know it is even more difficult for you to hear. Having spent more than 3 decades in policing, I have seen the impact a tragedy such as this can have on a family many times over. But as terrible as it is to lose a family member, it is far worse not knowing what happened. It was our job to complete a thorough investigation and that was not done. In so doing, we dishonoured the memory of Ms. Jimmy-Charlie and we failed her family.
To the family of Ms. Jimmy-Charlie:
You came to the RCMP rightfully expecting us to conduct a thorough investigation into your daughter, your sister, your wife, your mother's disappearance and subsequent death, and we failed you.
I fully acknowledge that we took away the ability for you to find closure. We did not uncover or protect all of the information that may have been available to allow you to know what happened to your loved one – the information you needed so that you could begin to heal. We simply did not do enough to investigate Ms. Jimmy-Charlie's death and support you during this time in your life.
For that and for all of the pain and hardships you experienced in the years that followed, I stand here today and offer my sincere apology.
Your experience was not up to the standards of our policies and procedures today, and we were not the police service you needed and deserved. On behalf of the RCMP of that time and the RCMP of today, I am so very sorry.
I know the words spoken today are not enough, and will never be enough. We have to take action.
For your mothers, sisters, daughters, granddaughters, aunties and all future generations to come, I make that commitment to you today – to taking positive action and making good on our promises of strengthening trust and relationships with Indigenous peoples.
I understand that today's apology will bring back feelings of hurt and trauma, but it is my sincere hope that this provides some closure to your family and that this apology can serve as one more step towards the RCMP's commitment to reconciliation.
We know that truth must be acknowledged for us to move forward together. The truth is we didn't conduct a thorough enough investigation after Ms. Jimmy-Charlie was found, we didn't keep you sufficiently informed of the outcome of the investigation, and we did not retain the investigation file after reaching a determination that nothing further would be done, even though some questions remained outstanding. We're committed to being better truth seekers and asking questions so we can learn from those with lived experiences.
While I cannot change the past, I can make sure we listen, remember, and learn from it. And that's because of you. The RCMP will never be the same because of your courage in coming forward and sharing your truths. I hope you can find comfort and healing in knowing that you've made a difference.
Chief Superintendent Scott Sheppard,
Commanding Officer, Yukon
The RCMP remains focused on resolving unsolved cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, and seeking closure for families.
Anyone with information on this case may contact their local RCMP detachment directly or, if they wish to remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).