G Division Reconciliation Strategy
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in G Division is committed to Reconciliation, and with the support of our communities, we have been able to develop the basic awareness and understanding of what reconciliation is. However, the RCMP will need to continue developing our awareness and understanding as we continue this path with our communities. As the RCMP becomes more aware and gains more understanding, the RCMP must transition to "operationalize" reconciliation in our duties.
What is Reconciliation?
The Truth and Reconciliation definition of Reconciliation: "
Reconciliation is about establishing and maintain a mutually respectful relation between Indigenous and non-indigenous peoples in this country. In order for that to happen, there has to be awareness of the past, an acknowledgement of the harm that has been inflicted, atonement for the causes, and action to change behaviour." (Quote from Honoring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future Summary of the Final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, 2015, p.6)
Reconciliation – Our journey
G Division will foster an environment of accountability and trust through collaboration and open communication with Indigenous Peoples of the Northwest Territories (NWT), as well as, acknowledge and understand past events, which will help guide and shape the future of policing in the Northwest Territories.
Annual Performance Plan framework
The Annual Performance Plan (APP) assists in providing clearfix direction and identifies initiatives aligned with the obligations of the relationship priority of the Reconciliation Strategy. Work plans and efforts in this area are reported on a quarterly basis within the online management system.
- APP 1 - Define Reconciliation
Explore and define the meaning of Reconciliation before identifying meaningful activities
Area of Responsibility: Contract Policing
- APP 2 - Cultural Awareness and Education
Explore opportunities to understand Indigenous culture and historical impacts
Area of Responsibility: Contract Policing
- APP 3 - Cultural Specific Activities and Events
Practice culturally based activities/initiatives focused on enhancing police and Indigenous relationships
Area of Responsibility: Contract Policing
- APP 4 - Assessment
Assessment of information, data and activities. Identify where improvement can be made
Area of Responsibility: Contract Policing
Define Reconciliation - APP 1
Before any meaningful Reconciliation based activities can be initiated, it is imperative that the meaning of Reconciliation be fully explored and understood. This includes, but is not limited to, the understanding of past policing practices, the historical events that have significant affected the Indigenous Peoples. This includes how our actions today can affect current and future relationships and trust in the police. That process will involve engagement and consultation with NWT Communities and Indigenous stakeholders at all levels. This is necessary and should precipitate all future Reconciliation activities and initiatives. Consultation and engagement is not a onetime event but rather and ongoing process to ensure activities are acceptable, meaningful and are hitting the bench mark in terms of enhancing existing relationships and forging new relationships between the RCMP and the Indigenous Peoples of the NWT.
- Senior management:
Creation of a Truth and Reconciliation Advisory Committee at the Criminal Operations level with select representatives of Indigenous groups in the NWT (not already part of Commanding Officers Indigenous Consultative Committee) with a focus on making recommendations for improving RCMP/ Indigenous relations in the NWT.
- Detachment commanders:
Through previously established Inter-agency or similar committees discuss Reconciliation and identify what it means to the community served and identify mutually acceptable activities to improve police/community relationships. Detachment commanders consult with Indigenous Advisory groups or Inter-Agency groups engage and consult Indigenous Individuals.
RCMP employees attend community information sessions hosted by Indigenous groups on Reconciliation. Detachments are to engage in community/culturally based activities/initiatives.
Cultural Awareness and Education - APP 2
Explore opportunities to understand Indigenous culture and historical impacts.
Activities/ initiatives designed to increase member education and understanding of Indigenous culture and historical impacts on Indigenous communities. Initiatives include:
- Blanket exercises
- Detachment Orientation Guides with emphasis on Indigenous cultural awareness
- Formal training such as Agora courses:
- Trauma Informed
- Missing Persons Investigations
- Aboriginal Awareness
- Indigenous Policing (including Métis Liaison Coordinator) explore opportunities for Indigenous Elder visits to Detachments to discuss Indigenous history and culture specific to the area
Cultural Specific Activities and Events - APP 3
Practice culturally based activities focused on enhancing police/ Indigenous Community relationships.
As part of the Commanding Officer's Annual Performance Plan, every detachment is tasked with completing a Reconciliation based activity within the community they serve and report this activity in the plan. Some of the more prominent events/activities are highlighted in this report.
Assessment - APP 4
Assessment of activities/initiatives to assess effectiveness of Detachment efforts and identify where improvements should be made. An initiative to assess the RCMP's efforts could be completed though the use of community surveys.
Reconciliation Based Priorities: Commanding Officers Indigenous Consultative Committee
The Commanding Officers Indigenous Consultative Committee (COICC) consists of nine Indigenous elders from throughout the NWT. The COICC meets twice a year and with the guidance of the member, the committee changed its name from the Commanding Officers Aboriginal Advisory Committee to the current name the Commanding Officers Indigenous Consultative Committee in 2019. The elders provided valuable input on the naming of the Committee and how to work together in the future. Additionally, the elders must be recognized for their hard work and their contribution to the recommendations. One of the top recommendations is the cross-cultural training the RCMP employees receive when they initially start employment in all the G Division detachments. The second recommendation is the recruitment of local Indigenous applicants/ employees and how the recruiting publications should show known local RCMP members.
One internally focused action item for Indigenous employees (as per Vision 150)
The RCMP collaborated with the Government of Northwest Territories (GNWT) Departments of Justice and Education and Heritage Canada to honour the people who served as special constable in the NWT. Interviews were conducted with the special constable and/or their families about their service. The interviews, along with artifacts and photos were put into an exhibit at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Museum called "We took care of them: Special Constables in the NWT."
In 2019, Corporal April Bell was supported by the Commanding Officer, Chief Superintendent Jamie Zettler in taking the Certificate in Aboriginal Language Revitalization, the name later changed to the Certificate in Indigenous Language Revitalization from the University of Victoria. The certificate program was offered through Aurora College Yellowknife Campus and it included nine courses regarding how to keep the Indigenous language alive and how to record and document the language. One course was the Mentor and Apprentice Program where each student was paired with a language mentor and they completed 100 hours in the language which supports Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) Calls for Justice 9.3.ii "
Ensure mandatory Indigenous language capacity with police services."
Restorative justice: Initiatives that support meaningful and culturally appropriate justice practices (plus increase restorative justice referrals by 5%)
RCMP officer, Inspector Dean Riou is the GNWT Liaison Officer who oversees the programs and ensures that the Restorative Justice Program is running effectively and ensures that the RCMP is an active participant in the process. In 2019, there were 100 referrals in the Northwest Territories, 21 were pre-charge referrals and 79 referrals were made by Public Prosecution of Canada (PPSC), after the charges were laid. In 2020, there have been 11 pre-charge referrals to restorative justice.
Inspector Dean Riou and Community and Indigenous Policing member Cpl. April Bell have committed to host in-house training for the G Division RCMP members and community Justice Committee members, with speaker from PPSC and local justice committees, to learn how to refer individuals and the benefits of going through Restorative Justice and not through the formal court system. They will also champion better statistical capturing of the use of the Restorative Justice Program.
These actions also support the MMIWG Inquiry's Calls for Justice 5.11: "
We call upon all governments to increase accessibility to meaningful and culturally appropriate justice practices by expanding restorative justice programs and Indigenous People's court."
Formalize relations with local Indigenous groups (especially women's groups) / explicit collaboration with Provincial and Territorial women's groups, elders, youth, employees etc.
This objective is also aligned with MMIWG Inquiry's Calls for Justice 9.7 "
We call upon all police services to partner with front-line organizations that work in service delivery, safety, and harm reduction for Indigenous women, girls, and Two-Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual (2SLGBTQQIA) people to expand and strengthen police services delivery."
One way in which the RCMP G Division is supporting this objective is through the Safety Cooperation Protocols. These protocols are signed documents between the RCMP and the predominant cultural groups in the NWT. The purpose of the Protocol is to establish a trusting and reciprocal relationship between the cultural group and RCMP with the goal of either preventing situations and community crisis, or resolving disputes, which do develop, at the earliest possible opportunity. The Protocols are valid for three years.
Currently G Division has Safety Protocols with the following:
- Dene Nation: Signed in July 2016
- Inuvialuit Regional Corporation: Signed in January 2017
- Northwest Territory Métis Nation: Signed in November 2017
- Gwich'in Tribal Council: In development
- North Slave Métis Alliance: In development
In February 2019, RCMP Division's Commanding Officers committed to establishing external review of sexual assault investigations in their respective jurisdictions by the end of 2019. This was a result of an RCMP initiated review of all 2016 unfounded sexual assault complaints, which found classification issues with 28% of the files. Approximately 1% of files were identified for further investigation. In August 2019, G Division announced that they would hold a pilot Sexual Assault Investigations Review Committee (SAIRC) based on feedback received from a stakeholder engagement and the RCMP National framework. Various Yellowknife advocacy groups participated in the Pilot review in December 2019. The G Division SAIRC reviews RCMP NWT sexual assault investigations, classified as "not clearfixed by charge" to ensure investigations are thorough, impartial, and properly classified, as well as to identify any systemic gaps or barriers. The G Division SAIRC provides case-specific recommendations to Divisional Criminal Operations and/or makes broad-based recommendations on RCMP policy, procedures and training. G Division has hosted two reviews to date and plans to host two reviews in 2021.
MMIWG Inquiry's Calls for Justice: attention and description of how Calls are being considered in plans (such as coordination and communication)
RCMP training that is mandatory and addresses the MMIWG Calls for Justice 9.2.iv "
Undertake training and education of all staff and officers so that they understand and implement culturally appropriate and trauma-informed practices, especially when dealing with families of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people." The training falls under the APP 2 - Cultural Awareness and Education.
- Mandatory Agora courses
- Missing Persons Investigations - The course addresses the Members personal biases to account in order to effectively conduct a Missing Persons Investigation.
- Using a Trauma Informed approach - The course ensures Members approach trauma victims effectively to ensure a safe and accountable response that favours a positive interaction before, during and after the investigation.
- Indigenous Awareness - The course provides Members with a broad understanding of Indigenous Peoples history in Canada.
- Community orientation and cultural awareness form
Winter 2020 – G Division updated the community orientation and cultural awareness form and placed it on the internal webpage (Infoweb) for all employees to access it. This form tracks and documents the efforts made by employees upon arrival into a new community, ensuring a mandatory cultural awareness component was included in the member's orientation to that community. During a discussion about cultural training at the COICC spring 2018 meeting, the Commanding Officer, Chief Superintendent stated that the training is "
something we need to continue with even after we are able to check the box." Cross Cultural, training was discussed during the COICC Winter 2019 and Gerry Kisoun wanted to "
ensure cross cultural orientation is happening at all levels."
- Métis Elder Detachment visits
G Division's Métis Coordinator, Cst. Adolphus Norris has been working with the Northwest Territory Métis Nation on selecting an elder and having that elder go into the Detachments in the South Slave area and have them talk with RCMP employees about localized Indigenous history and protocols of the Métis people from that area. During the spring of 2019 COICC meeting, Committee member Paul Andrew stated, "
we need to listen to the uncomfortable" when talking about the history of his peoples.
- Kairos Blanket Exercise program
The "Kairos Blanket Exercise program" is a unique, participatory history lesson – developed in collaboration with Indigenous Elders, knowledge keepers and educators – that fosters truth, understanding, respect and Reconciliation among Indigenous and non-indigenous peoples. In December 2019, 15 RCMP members, 3 Public Servants Employees and community members (including a member of the COICC) participated in the Kairos Blanket Exercise held in Hay River. This interactive program teaches participants the truth about the history of Canada and the Indigenous Peoples relationships and helps them learn about the struggles and hardships that they survived. This training should be offered annually due to the amount of employees transfer in, out and around the Northwest Territories, further to that, the "Kairos Blanket Exercise program" is offered virtually.
Alignment to Provincial or Territorial MMIWG or Reconciliation Action Plans
The Government of the Northwest Territories Action Plan in response to the MMIWG Inquiry is expected to be published in the Fall of 2021. Further collaboration will take place at that time to ensure G Division's Strategic Reconciliation plan is aligned with the GNWT's Action Plan.
Detachments and specialized support unit's police throughout the Northwest Territories and serve every community. Reconciliation is a shared goal in every detachment for every employee as we carry out our duties. Through listening, learning and engaging in reconciliation, we can continue to earn your trust and focus on community safety together.
Examples of Reconciliation based activities in G Division
The following activities are part of APP 3 - Cultural Specific Activities and Events:
- Parka making in Paulatuk
Cpl. Cara Streeter was a successful recipient of funding under the Family Violence Initiative Fund and organized a Mitten and Parka making workshop. The workshop consisted of 8 sessions over a 3-week time period where members of the 350-person community would come together and an Elder would teach participants how to properly prepare furs, cut out the patterns and sew the mittens and parkas together. It was a great way for the members of the community and the RCMP to get to know and work alongside one another in a friendly environment, building a trusting relationship for the future. During the workshops, Cpl. Cara Streeter was able to sew a parka, which was donated to a student in the school who was in need of a new one.
- Indigenous Peoples Day in Yellowknife - June 21
Every year the RCMP is invited by the North Slave Métis Alliance to help with their annual Métis Fish Fry held at Samba Keh Park in Yellowknife. RCMP employees and families have been volunteering at this event for over 5 years where they prepare, cook and serve over 5000 meals to the public that come out to enjoy the Indigenous Peoples Day festivities.
- Cultural Camp in Hay River
Cst. Steve Beck, a member of G Division Traffic Services, organizes and facilitates an annual Cultural Camp for youth in the Hay River area. The camp started in 1995 and has been an annual event ever since. The spring cultural Camp is a beaver camp, where students learn how to harvest beavers and prepare/run a spring camp. The winter cultural camp, is where the students learn winter survival skills, how to ride a snow machine and trap and harvest animals. The camp is located 100 kilometres outside of Hay River, towards the NWT/Alberta Boarder. The Cultural Camp partnered with the GNWT Department of Education, Culture and Employment to support/transport the students and teachers to participate and in the cultural camp.
A way forward
The RCMP wants to work together with the residents of the NWT, should you have any further inquires or have comments contact your local detachment or the G Division Indigenous Policing Section.
The Reconciliation Strategy for the RCMP in G Division will look very different in five or ten years as it evolves and continually changes as we learn from our communities what has worked and what has not. I have often said that the RCMP is further ahead than it was 50 years ago, but as soon as the RCMP thinks it has caught up we will realize that we have fallen behind, some things that have been tried will not meet our expected results, while others may exceed them. The most important aspect will be that we continue our open bilateral dialogue with the communities as we grow this important relationship.
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