RCMP Newfoundland and Labrador Reconciliation Strategy - Our approach to relationship building
Royal Canadian Mounted Police Newfoundland and Labrador (RCMP NL) is divided into three districts in Newfoundland and Labrador: East District, West District and Labrador District, with Headquarters located in St. John's. In total, RCMP Detachments are responsible for policing approximately 80% of the land mass of the province and 60% of the population, spread throughout hundreds of remote and rural communities.
The province is home to four diverse Indigenous cultures: Inuit, Innu, NunatuKavut (Southern Labrador Inuit), and Mi'kmaq. Three of the four Indigenous partners originate in Labrador, while Mi'kmaq origins lie on the island portion of the province. The RCMP has a significant presence in all of our Indigenous communities and we continue to work collectively towards the safety and security of these communities.
RCMP NL remains committed to continuing to build on trust and mutual respect. An important piece of our vision involves recognizing the role that reconciliation has played in our relationships with our Indigenous partners and putting forward strategies that reflect and ensure a permanent commitment to our Indigenous communities, through good faith, honour, and fairness.
Strategies must include the impacts of the RCMP's past errors and use these events to form the basis of our reconciliation plan moving forward. RCMP NL is committed to reconciliation as part of an ongoing, ever-changing continuum. Effectively, reconciliation is a lens through which we monitor our decisions and actions, always with a view to the future.
RCMP NL Reconciliation objectives
RCMP NL is committed to building and maintaining strong, positive relationships with the Indigenous Peoples of Newfoundland and Labrador. Our reconciliation efforts to date have established a foundation that we must strengthen and grow for generations to come. We can achieve this by acknowledging our past and working together to shape our future. Some of the ways we have been working on accomplishing this goal are listed below.
- Objective 1 - Built and maintain a strong, trusting relationship with the Indigenous Peoples of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Initiatives to achieve this objective include:
- Detachment Annual Performance Plans are developed and planned in consultation with Indigenous partners, focusing on initiatives and objectives that are attainable and meaningful.
- Detachment members have undertaken several initiatives that have played an important role in fostering relationships with our Indigenous communities. Some examples include the following:
- Wood cutting for Elders.
- Toys for the North, an initiative with the Canadian Forces that sees Christmas gifts transported to Labrador, then gift wrapped and distributed throughout every single community in Labrador, ensuring every child receives a gift.
- Active participation on several working groups with our Indigenous partners, including the Innu Round Table Secretariat and Justice and Policing sub-committee, which focuses on partnerships with the Innu Nation leadership. As well, the Community Outreach Model Committee which cooperatively seeks to help the transient population in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, many of whom are Indigenous from various parts of Labrador. The role of the RCMP has been to bring best practices to the table for consideration in the overall strategy and to provide policing support to the field workers and volunteers from the multiple agencies involved.
- Inclusion of Indigenous police officers on the RCMP NL Commanding Officer's Employee Advisory Committee.
- The Commanding Officer's Indigenous Advisory Committee, which includes representatives of all of the Indigenous groups in NL.
- In partnership with several Indigenous groups and Elders, all detachments have been provided with eagle feathers for swearing legal oaths.
- Inclusion of an Indigenous RCMP police officer on the National Council Diversity and Inclusion Committee.
- The RCMP NL Indigenous and Community Policing Unit and local detachments have established partnerships with the three Friendship Centres in Newfoundland and Labrador.
- A Sweat Lodge was constructed at RCMP NL Headquarters in St. John's in the fall of 2019, for use by employees and the community. Sweats are sacred purification ceremonies for the purpose of spiritual cleansing and healing. The establishment of a Sweat Lodge at Headquarters is an important step in the reconciliation process and reflects our commitment to engaging with our Indigenous partners in meaningful and respectful ways.
- Participation in National Indigenous Reconciliation campaigns including: Sisters in Spirit Vigil (In Her Name), Moose Hide Campaign, and Orange Shirt Day.
- A member from Indigenous and Community Policing sits on the newly formed St. John's Urban Indigenous Coalition. The coalition focuses on the issues and concerns of Indigenous individuals living in the capital city of Newfoundland and Labrador.
- Qulliqs that have been carved by a renowned Inuk carver from Labrador have been placed in the RCMP Labrador District office and at RCMP NL Headquarters.
- Indigenous and Community Policing hosts an annual Flag Raising and community gathering with traditional food at RCMP Headquarters on National Indigenous Peoples Day. There are plans to expand this event to other areas in the province.
- RCMP police officers attend and participate in Powwows and other ceremonies.
- RCMP NL partnered with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to establish more mobile crisis response teams, which include a mental health care worker, such as a social worker or registered nurse, and a police officer, working together to respond to people in crisis. These teams serve both Indigenous and non-Indigenous residents of Newfoundland and Labrador.
- An initiative to conduct Innu and Inuit cultural training workshops led by community mentors for members has begun. It has been commented on by both Chief Nui of the Mushuau Innu Band in Natuashish and AngajukKâk (Mayor) Joe Dicker of the Nain Inuit Community Government as being welcomed by their communities as a valuable bridge building tool.
- A future goal currently in development is a collaborative approach with community safety officers to combat alcoholism in a Labrador dry community via education and enforcement, making the community safer.
- Discussions with the Crown relating to the re-introduction of youth diversion in Natuashish and traditional means to address local concerns hold promise for alternative solutions for young people engaged in the justice system in that community.
- Objective 2 - Enhance internal employee awareness and support of Reconciliation.
Initiatives to achieve this objective include the following:
- The RCMP NL Indigenous and Community Policing Unit has started to develop, in consultation with various Indigenous groups in Newfoundland and Labrador, an Indigenous Cultural Training program that will be specific to this province. The program will be offered to all employees of RCMP NL.
- Members of the Indigenous and Community Policing Unit travel throughout the province to offer the KAIROS Blanket Exercise employees.
- The RCMP NL senior management team promotes and encourages employee participation in Indigenous training activities and events such as National Indigenous Peoples Day, Powwows, Moose Hide Campaign, Blanket Exercise and Sweats, to name a few, significantly raising awareness of Indigenous culture and important issues.
- In addressing the Calls for Justice in the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, families have been met with in partnership with the Justice Canada established Family Information Liaison Unit. This response is part of the National Action Plan to help provide information and to facilitate open communication with families.
- Objective 3 - Increase the representation of Indigenous people in the RCMP
Initiatives to achieve this objective include:
- Continuing to promote and run the RCMP Indigenous Summer Student Program in partnership with the Qalipu and Miawpukek First Nations. For over 20 years, this program has allowed Indigenous post secondary students in NL to obtain a better understanding of policing while working with the RCMP in their communities.
- Offering recruitment career presentations in Indigenous communities and Friendship Centres.
- Supporting national programs such as the Indigenous Pre-Cadet Program – this and the preceding two initiatives are all in line with Call for Justice 9.3.i in the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
- Recognizing the commitment of Indigenous members to the RCMP through the awarding of the Aboriginal Veteran Millennium Medal to two Indigenous members from Labrador.
The way forward
Reconciliation is an ongoing priority for RCMP NL. We are committed to continuing to build and enhance relationships with Indigenous Peoples of our province. Strategies will focus on engagement, open collaboration, friendship and understanding, while also aligning with RCMP National Reconciliation Strategies, headed by the National RCMP Indigenous Relations Services (RIRS), which include:
- Developing and evaluating practical and culturally competent policing services for Indigenous communities.
- Consulting with Indigenous organizations so that policies and programs reflect their needs.
- Promoting and encouraging the recruitment of Indigenous people within the RCMP.
- Developing and delivering proactive and preventative programs specific to Indigenous communities.
- Developing community capacity to prevent crime through social development initiatives.
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