Royal Canadian Mounted Police Path of Reconciliation: Strengthening Trust in the RCMP
Report - 2019-2020
Table of contents
- Message from RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki
- Executive Summary
- Starting the Path
- Enhanced Policing Service Delivery
- Building on the Past
- Measuring Progress
- Conclusion: Continuing the Journey
Message from RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki
Throughout its history — whether in fulfilling its mandate to enforce federal, provincial/territorial and municipal laws and policies, or through overtly racist or systemically racist institutional decisions — the RCMP has taken actions that have eroded First Nations, Inuit and Métis people's trust. Some of these actions have left generational scars on the lives of many. I know that we are just at the beginning of a very long journey and that rekindling trust and strengthening respectful relationships will take time. However, I remain steadfastly committed to reconciliation, both as an individual and as Commissioner of the RCMP.
The RCMP's first report on reconciliation offers a glimpse of the many RCMP reconciliation initiatives that have already taken place. I am proud of the work RCMP employees have been doing in partnership with communities from coast-to-coast-to-coast. The report covers national and local actions taken to move reconciliation forward, the partnerships that have been established, the engagement activities, as well as the grass root initiatives and enhanced policing services that have been put into place to move the organization forward and on a path towards meaningful reconciliation. The report also details our progress through tangible measurements.
The RCMP is actively engaging in the continuous process of reconciliation, and working to strengthen trust and relationships. We are listening and taking positive actions. I have been engaging national Inuit, First Nations and Métis leaders, and we are formalizing working relationships that will strengthen not only information sharing, but also how we consult with Indigenous partners on the work we do.
Our Vision150, the plan to modernize the RCMP, is about putting people first so we can provide communities with the best service possible. The RCMP is focused on thoughtful action, based on what we're hearing in conversations with advisory groups, Indigenous communities, and Indigenous employees.
As part of our plan, RCMP in each province and territory are using a trauma-informed approach to co-develop reconciliation strategies with stakeholders and communities, employees and advocates. A new Indigenous Lived-Experience Advisory Group is now providing us with advice on how to advance reconciliation and address systemic issues. We're partnering with Indigenous women's groups, initiating an equity, diversity and inclusion strategy and formalizing a new Office for RCMP-Indigenous, Co-Development, Collaboration and Accountability.
Other ongoing initiatives include:
- supporting the implementation of tools for the collection of race-based data on police interactions with racialized and Indigenous peoples;
- disclosing police intervention information on an annual basis;
- working with police leaders from provincial, municipal and First Nations police services across Canada to develop a national standard for de-escalation and crisis intervention;
- ensuring transparent oversight of serious incidents;
- strengthening timelines in our public complaints process;
- implementing local policing models that meet community needs; and,
- increasing the use of restorative justice.
From partnering with Indigenous policing services and acknowledging local traditions to updating national policies and training, this report demonstrates how reconciliation is being woven throughout our modernization efforts. It also shows that reconciliation is not one-size fits all, and that it is a road best travelled in partnership with those who have been affected.
To the Indigenous organizations and provincial and territorial government partners who engage with us in providing police services across the country, we are committed to working with you to strengthen your trust and confidence in the RCMP.
To the over 1,900 Indigenous RCMP employees, we're committed to supporting you. Thank you to all of those who have played a role in identifying deficiencies and helping us move forward on our reconciliation efforts. Thank you to all the dedicated RCMP members and employees who contribute to reconciliation on a daily basis. I am proud of the work we've been doing and look forward to seeing where we will go.
To First Nations, Inuit and Métis people we serve – we know there is still much work to be done, but you have my word; I remain focused on advancing reconciliation as part of my mandate of modernizing the RCMP. Thank you for your continued partnership as we move forward on the RCMP path of reconciliation.
The RCMP is the police of primary jurisdiction for approximately 7.5 million people, which accounts for 22 per cent of the population in Canada. The RCMP has jurisdiction over approximately 75 per cent of the country's landmass and represents 25 per cent of police officers in Canada. Recognizing the breadth of the organization's police services, the RCMP is committed to ensuring organizational transparency, and to integrate input received from Indigenous stakeholders. The RCMP will release reports on reconciliation. These reports will highlight organizational initiatives that address the advancement of reconciliation and the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) Calls for Justice. Recognizing that any way forward is not a series of check boxes and must be done in collaboration with Indigenous communities, people, and those employed by the RCMP. The first report (2019-2020) was dedicated to the deliberate efforts of meaningful engagement, consultation and collaboration with First Nation, Inuit, and Métis peoples as the cornerstone of building important long-lasting relationships at the detachment/community/provincial/territorial and national levels. Subsequent years will also align with actions that respond to the MMIWG Calls for Justice as well as Canada's National Action Plan. This document is designed to showcase a sampling of RCMP reconciliation activities undertaken to strengthen connections with Indigenous communities. In recognition of oral and visual traditions, photos, diagrams and drawings have been included as much as possible. Please visit the RCMP web site on reconciliation for updates on the RCMP progress towards reconciliation and responding to the MMIWG Calls for Justice.
This report would not be complete without acknowledging the RCMP reconciliation position paper prepared by Dr. Anita Olsen Harper, The RCMP: Cultural Transformation and Reconciliation. Thank you Dr. Olsen Harper and the Circle of Change, the Commissioner's National Indigenous Advisory Committee, the National Youth Advisory Committee, the Commanding Officer's Indigenous Advisory Committees, Elders, youth, and the countless First Nations, Inuit and Métis people in the communities we live in and serve, and the 1,900 self-identified Indigenous employees who have shared so much of their personal and professional insights.
The RCMP's first reconciliation report provides a snapshot of the organization's 2019/2020 reconciliation efforts with the goal of rekindling trust between the RCMP and Indigenous peoples. The report acknowledges the RCMP's historical role in colonization, while also showcasing actions that have been taken to make operational and policy changes in response to Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Calls for Justice from the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry. The report also highlights the importance of mutual trust, empathy and respect as fundamental components of police service delivery for community safety and well-being. It also outlines a path forward to continue developing and fostering meaningful acts of reconciliation.
Indigenous and non-Indigenous audiences and community partners, both internally and externally.
Community and partner engagement has been essential to the RCMP's reconciliation efforts across the country. Engagement occurred nationally and divisionally with various internal and external advisory bodies, communities and organizations. This included reaching out to Indigenous academia. Testimonials throughout the report highlight the impact these acts of reconciliation and community engagement have had on partners, stakeholders and employees.
The organization's approach is a "path" of reconciliation. This includes recognizing the importance of a distinctions-based, culturally-specific direction when developing reconciliation actions. Meaningful reconciliation not only takes time, but it also takes many steps to build relationships based on trust with First Nations, Inuit and Metis communities.
The RCMP has initially committed to producing three reports to capture the RCMP approaches to advancing reconciliation. The first report focuses on national and local reconciliation activities that took place during a snapshot of time (2019-2020), and highlights engagement, consultation and collaboration undertaken by RCMP divisions and detachments. The second report will focus on changes to RCMP policies and programs as a result of the consultation and engagement with Indigenous communities and organizations at the national, divisional and detachment levels. The third report will measure the impact of the RCMP's actions as the organization moves the yardstick forward along the path of reconciliation.
The formal and informal acts of reconciliation described in this report affirm the RCMP's acknowledgement of the past and its commitment to change. Highlights include engaging with partners, operational initiatives, training, recruitment, formal transfers of land and artifacts, the RCMP's participation in commemorative days and traditions. Also, effective reconciliation with Indigenous peoples would not be possible without grassroots initiatives at all levels of the organization. Finally, the report identifies how the RCMP will measure the impacts these actions have had on rekindling trust and strengthening relationships with Indigenous peoples.
Reconciliation is about establishing and maintaining a mutually respectful relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples in this country. In order for that to happen there has to be an awareness of the past, an acknowledgement of the harm that has been inflicted, atonement for the causes, and action to change behaviour.Footnote 1
From the creation of the Northwest Mounted Police in 1873, the history of the RCMP has been interwoven with First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. This shared history is crucial to recognize as the organization moves forward, in partnership with Indigenous stakeholders and communities, to create a future together.
Reconciliation is based on trust and the uncomfortable truth is that the RCMP has played a role in colonization during the nearly 150 years since the inception of the organization. The role of the RCMP during the period of the Indian Residential Schools, the 60's Scoop of removing Indigenous children into foster/adoptive care and the killing of sled dogs in Nunavik, to name a few examples, has, over time eroded trust and placed police as authority figures to fear and avoid. This is why the theme of strengthening trust in the RCMP is paramount to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.
The RCMP's primary mandate remains the prevention of crime and the maintenance of peace and order. Contributing to the safety and well-being of Indigenous communities is one of the RCMP's five organizational strategic priorities, and a critical component of the RCMP's service delivery model. Mutual trust, respect and empathy are fundamental components of healthy relationships between police and local communities, and effective service delivery. The RCMP strives to contribute to an environment that fosters collaborative work, to align, support, and improve community safety and well-being. As we work together, the RCMP is in a position to assist and advocate for Indigenous communities at a local and national level. Delivering culturally competent and engaged police services provides the footing necessary to build connections and partnerships on the path of reconciliation.
Upon appointment as the 24th Commissioner of the RCMP, Commissioner Brenda Lucki's responsibility to enhance the RCMP's role in reconciliation with Indigenous peoples was clearly articulated in her mandate letter. As one of Canada's oldest institutions, policing services must be predicated on trust and credibility to be efficient and effective. The letter illustrates the importance of building collaborative and cooperative partnerships with Indigenous peoples. Prior to the release of Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG Final Report), the RCMP started to collaboratively explore what reconciliation with the RCMP meant to First Nations, Inuit and Métis people across Canada which is the focus of the first year of this reconciliation annual report.
The RCMP did not wait for the release of the MMIWG Final Report before it started to focus on reconciliation and strengthening internal policies and practices. National and international reports have been released such as the Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which lit the way for reconciliation. The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls is seen as a critical milestone on the path to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, which directly responded to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Call to Action 41, which called for such an inquiry. The RCMP recognizes its responsibility to be accountable and to contribute to the response to these reports. Many external influencers, including government reports, inform RCMP programs, policy and training. These important report findings form the current foundation of reconciliation in the RCMP, upon which strategies and action plans are built.
Acknowledging the unique and long-standing relationship the RCMP has had with Indigenous peoples is key to recognizing past wrongs in order to move forward. As an agent of government policy and direction, the RCMP has contributed to colonialism. As we forge a new path towards strengthening mutual respect and trust, the errors of the past cannot be minimalized. Three RCMP Commissioners (Zaccardelli in 2004, Paulson in 2016 and Lucki in 2018) have delivered apologies to Indigenous peoples. This includes the current Commissioner Lucki's apology during the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. These apologies are available on the RCMP website.Footnote 2 Commanding Officers have also delivered apologies.Footnote 3
To move forward, we must know and acknowledge our past. This involves honest truth-telling about the complex history of the RCMP with Indigenous communities. The RCMP recognizes and respects that reconciliation is personal to each First Nations, Inuit and Métis person, and it cannot be rushed.
Starting the Path
Guided by the principle of "nothing about us without us," the RCMP actions will be guided by the collective efforts of all parties with the objective of rekindling trust.
A principled-approach to the work of reconciliation acknowledges that it will take time, it will be difficult at times, and will be continually evolving and adapting as we move forward.
A key priority for the RCMP is to take a collaborative and community-driven approach. With the goal of strengthening relationships, the RCMP is engaging in renewed dialogue with Indigenous communities, Elders, youth, employees and advisory partners across Canada. The organization will continue to build on existing relationships through collaboration and co-development to ensure actions and outcomes are meaningful as identified by Indigenous partners. This allows for the co-creation of meaningful and culturally sensitive reconciliation objectives that are built on integrating Indigenous truths. Following community engagement, each division and business line of the organization is developing distinctions-based reconciliation plans reflective of unique regional perspectives and giving thoughtful consideration to the numerous national and international reports that have been produced.
As an Elder of Westbank First Nation, I need to complement the RCMP for using a shadow graphic representation of the Thunderbird on a booklet that was present at the meeting. To me it represented a reflection of our West Coast peoples and their oral history and storytelling. It is seldom that any Ottawa publications represent anything other than the large Eastern plains and prairie nations in literature or art works. As we have been colonized for little more than 200 years in British Columbia, it is hard to find any representation of our Western culture in the literature we receive. Kudos to the group that put together the booklet to include a graphic that left me feeling included in the process. It makes my spirit happy. Limlimpt.
The foundation for meaningful reconciliation for the RCMP means listening to Indigenous perspectives from a wide variety of collaborative dialogues. Engaging with Indigenous Elders, people and their communities, youth advocates, academics, advisory bodies across Canada, and RCMP employees, allows for the co-creation of meaningful and culturally sensitive reconciliation objectives that are built on integrating Indigenous perspectives. Advice and community perspective is also provided via the RCMP-led Commissioner's National Indigenous Advisory Committee, the Circle of Change Advisory Committee, the Elders Council, divisional Commanding Officer community advisory committees, and other community consultation groups.
Examples of this collaborative approach include the following engagement across Canada.
National Youth Advisory Committee
The RCMP National Youth Advisory Committee (NYAC) is composed of youth ages 13-21 from across Canada. The 2020-21 NYAC consists of 125 members, and 23 per cent of the group identify as Indigenous. In May 2019, the RCMP National Youth Summit was held with youth representatives from every province and territory in Canada. Four of the 19 participants self-identified as Indigenous. An interactive session on reconciliation resulted in sketches and dialogue on the youth perspective, which aided the understanding of the reconciliation efforts expected of the RCMP moving forward such as more youth engagement, wearing Indigenous cultural items with the uniform and developing empathy to genuinely understand Indigenous culture.
The Commissioner's National Indigenous Advisory Committee
The Commissioner's National Indigenous Advisory Committee (CNIAC) consists of 13 Indigenous community leaders from each province and territory across Canada. It provides strategic advice and cultural perspective to the Commissioner on matters related to the delivery of Indigenous policing services. At a specially convened in-person conversational gathering to discuss reconciliation with the RCMP in June 2019, the Committee covered the following themes: the meaning of reconciliation, missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, Indigenous cultural awareness, and reconciliatory actions. The result was the production of the RCMP Path of Reconciliation illustration, which captures the recommendations and comments from the membership to aid the organization in developing reconciliation plans. This illustration reveals that cultural awareness, communication and collaboration are required to strengthen the relationship between the RCMP and Indigenous peoples.
External Advisory Bodies
Since 2016, the RCMP has been engaging with Indigenous academics, community leaders and experts in their fields. The "Circle of Change" members from across Canada provide advice and guidance to the RCMP on resources, policies, training, police tools, and communication to better enable the RCMP to investigate and prevent violence against Indigenous women and girls. For example, the Circle members provided input and direction in relation to missing persons investigations, contributing to an updated policy, and a new risk assessment form and training, and provided important insights into the Vision Map and approaches to Indigenous youth engagement.
To review newly developed learning products, a council composed of a First Nations Elder, an Inuit Elder and a Métis Knowledge Keeper was also engaged. The council provided valuable input to the development of Indigenous training materials for the RCMP, including the new Cultural Awareness and Humility course, and the Using a Trauma-Informed Approach training.
In partnership with provincial/territorial governments, the RCMP contractually delivers policing services in eight provinces, three territories, and over 150 municipalities. In Ontario and Quebec, the RCMP delivers federal policing services. Under the First Nations Policing Program, the RCMP provides supplemental policing under 143 Community Tripartite Agreements that serve 280 Indigenous communities.
Each province and territory in Canada represents a "division" of the RCMP. In each division, the Commanding Officers has division level Indigenous advisory committees, which focus on provincial or territorial Indigenous realities, and provides partnerships for initiatives. This is to ensure that each divisional approach to reconciliation is reflective of unique regional and culturally specific requirements which are meaningful to the Indigenous people of that province or territory. National, provincial and territorial Indigenous organizations are also important sources of direction, with frequent liaison taking place on multiple issues.
At the detachment level, community consultative groups meet with Commanders to provide a further level of direct engagement with communities and help address their specific needs. These groups identify local policing priorities and are at the core of the RCMP's approach to building lasting relationships.
In the provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and the Northwest Territories the RCMP has dedicated Métis community coordinators who work specifically with Métis communities to deliver crime prevention/reduction programs, provide training on Métis culture, history and rights, establish strong communication networks with Métis groups and organizations, and participate in a variety of Métis cultural and governance events. The coordinators organize commemorative events in the communities, such as the Louis Riel anniversary flag raising across Canada, attend the annual Métis festival Back to Batoche days in Saskatchewan, and they also provide input into reconciliation strategies specific to the Métis peoples.
The RCMP Reconciliation Working Group
In 2018, the RCMP implemented a working group comprised of employee representatives, including Indigenous employees, from across the organization in all provinces and business lines who provide strategic direction and leadership for the organization as it advances reconciliation efforts. The RCMP Reconciliation Working Group's (RRWG) responsibilities include the development of divisional and business line reconciliation strategies, leading new reconciliation initiatives, and the sharing of leading practices based on integrating Indigenous perspectives to strengthening relationships and joint priorities with communities across the country.
Community Consultative Groups
Each Indigenous community that is a signatory to a Community Tripartite Agreement as part of the First Nations Policing Program has a Community Consultative Group (CCG) led by community members. The purpose of the group is to identify and advocate for the community's policing priorities. This promotes open communication between the RCMP and members of the community, and plays a key role in the delivery of effective policing services.
Enhanced Policing Service Delivery
Indigenous Policing Sections
In 1988, Assistant Commissioner (Deputy Commissioner) R.H.D Head conducted research into the delivery of policing services to Indigenous communities throughout Canada. The findings of the 1988 Head Report saw the creation of the Aboriginal Policing Directorate at National Headquarters (NHQ), now known as the RCMP Indigenous Relation Services (RIRS). With an emphasis on policing for Indigenous people rather than of Indigenous people, there are Indigenous Policing Sections (IPS), staffed with Indigenous regular members and civilian staff in every province and territory (RCMP Division) where the RCMP is the police of jurisdiction.
The work led by RIRS and the IPS focuses on ensuring and providing a culturally competent policing service for Indigenous people living in jurisdictions policed by the RCMP. RIRS and the IPS in the divisions support:
- police operations and investigations
- the development of culturally appropriate policing services, programs and policies in collaboration with Indigenous communities
- the recruitment of Indigenous people to the RCMP
- development and delivery of culturally relevant proactive and preventative programs specific to Indigenous communities
- collaboration with Indigenous communities to develop capacity for crime prevention through social development initiatives
Nationally, RIRS responds to numerous government requests for information related to Indigenous policing and reconciliation, and leads a number of reconciliation activities at headquarters and RCMP participation at Indigenous community events in Ottawa. Annually, RIRS and the IPS lead activities to celebrate Indigenous culture, during Indigenous Awareness Week and National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations that includes arranging to have Elders speak to RCMP employees and share their teachings, and host Indigenous performers, guest speakers and artisans. There are also workshops to share the history and tradition, such as a hand-drum workshop hosted at NHQ by a local Algonquin Elder. RIRS also works with Indigenous Elders to share their traditional knowledge and perspectives at meetings and events. When making these arrangements the RCMP ensures that local Indigenous cultural protocols are respected.
RIRS also takes the lead on initiatives to raise awareness of important dates in Indigenous people's history by bringing attention to the legacy of Indian Residential Schools, acknowledging Orange Shirt Day and hosting Sisters in Spirit Vigils and moments of silence for the loss of Indigenous women and girls lives in Canada.
While many reports point to changes required in the delivery of policing services, the RCMP has been proactively updating policy and procedures in order to effect operational changes to better serve Indigenous communities. The work continues, but the RCMP has already made several changes to its policies, procedures, and training in recent years, including:
- establishing a National Office of Investigative Standards and Practices to provide expertise and oversight on major case investigations
- updating policies and procedures for missing person investigations to improve quality, oversight and communication with families
- updating the Human Deaths policy to include provisions for greater cultural sensitivity
- enhancing the RCMP's participation in restorative justice initiatives across the country
- expanding consultation and engagement with Indigenous leaders and Elders at the national, divisional and local level, including establishing an Indigenous consultative group of academics and advocates that provide input on violence prevention initiatives and operational policy
- developing training and policy with First Nations Elders, to best address resource protests and other major events, that provide police officers with the skills and abilities required, using alternative dispute resolution techniques, to resolve conflict effectively between disagreeing parties
For several years now, the RCMP has been working on improving communication and implementing a number of new initiatives relating to missing persons investigations. As part of the RCMP's Missing Persons Strategy, an updated Missing Persons Policy was published in 2016. This policy continues to be updated as and when needed. The RCMP continually reviews, updates or creates new operational policies based on a number of internal and external factors or reviews.
Key updates to the policy include:
- A Missing Person Intake and Risk Assessment form which must be completed for all incidents of missing persons. This form was developed to improve the quality of missing person investigations by:
- providing a more detailed document with a greater number of categories to better describe the missing person, including ethnic origin and cultural affinity sections
- providing more uniformity/consistency in missing person investigations Canada-wide
- Once filled out, the form is further reviewed and signed by a supervisor, who provides oversight and guidance throughout the investigation
- Members must establish a communications schedule with the family of the missing person to provide updates to them on the status of the investigation based on the family's wishes
The RCMP Indigenous advisory bodies have provided guidance regarding the missing persons training and the development of the Intake and Risk Assessment form.
Sexual Assault Case Reviews
The RCMP is taking action to strengthen police training and awareness, investigative accountability, victim support, and public education and communication. The Sexual Assault Review Team (SART) was created in 2017 to specifically focus on reviews of sexual assault cases and procedures. This team did a review of all unfounded sexual assault cases from 2016, and produced a report with recommendations to help improve future investigations.
Key to this work is the organization-wide understanding of using a trauma-informed approach, and the creation of a guide for re-contacting victims.
Uniform and Dress Policy
An advancement of reconciliation with Indigenous employees saw the review of the Uniform and Dress Policy in 2019.
Regular Member employees can request to wear Indigenous ceremonial items of honour and distinction with the RCMP ceremonial uniform. Eagle feathers and the Métis sash can be seen with the Red Serge on ceremonial occasions and special events across Canada. Ongoing consultation continues with Inuit members and community groups to incorporate a distinct honorary Inuit piece to be worn on the ceremonial uniform.
Restorative justice (RJ) is a complementary measure to the criminal justice system that can offer culturally sensitive and community driven alternatives. The RCMP acknowledges the process can help heal relationships within communities and build the trust that is required to improve community safety and quality of life. The RCMP has been working with federal, provincial and regional partners to increase the use of restorative justice and increase referrals to community and Indigenous (traditional) justice programs pre-charge. In 2019, the RCMP introduced mechanisms to track the number of RJ referrals and are working towards a five per cent increase (in referrals) over the next three years.
Strengthening cultural awareness training is an important component for advancing reconciliation. The following are some of the activities/courses that are offered to RCMP employees:
- The KAIROS Blanket Exercise is a unique, interactive history lesson developed in collaboration with Indigenous Elders, knowledge keepers and educators. In December 2017, this Exercise officially became part of the RCMP Cadet Training Program with each cadet participating in the training under the guidance of an Indigenous Elder. The Commissioner and the Senior Management team have participated in the Blanket Exercise and since April 2019 a total of 1,383 RCMP employees across the country have participated in this training (37 sessions were delivered at Depot, 15 sessions across divisions and 10 at National Headquarters). In February 2020 Contract and Indigenous Policing supported facilitator training for employees from National Headquarters, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.
- As part of the Government of Canada's It's Time: Canada's Strategy to Prevent and Address Gender-Based Violence, the RCMP developed training on how to use a trauma-informed approach when conducting investigations, and helping employees better understand the impacts of culture and personal identity on actions, perceptions, interactions and experiences. Two courses were developed for RCMP employees: Using a Trauma-Informed Approach and Cultural Awareness and Humility. The RCMP worked extensively with subject matter experts and Indigenous peoples on these courses.
- Ongoing presentations are conducted at Depot and in several Indigenous communities by a First Nations expert on issues facing Indigenous communities including health, justice, education, social services, sexual exploitation, human trafficking and harm reduction.
- Indigenous awareness components, including the prevention of human trafficking, have been added to the Human Trafficking Investigator's Course, which is delivered twice a year at the Canadian Police College with participants from police services across Canada.
- All officers in the RCMP are required to complete the Indigenous and First Nations Awareness Course before the end of their first two years of service. This online course explores the history, geography and contemporary issues pertaining to Indigenous lands, cultures, and communities. The course is also available to all RCMP employees.
- The right to peaceful protests remains a fundamental freedom for all Canadians. The Community Conflict Management Group (CCMG) training provides members with the skills required to resolve conflict effectively between dissenting stakeholders using an Alternative Dispute Resolution approach. CCMG-trained members help build and maintain relationships of trust, respect, and mutual understanding. Each course delivery is opened and closed with an Elder from the area and the Kairos Blanket Exercise is included with a focus on understanding the local Indigenous culture.
- Several divisions provide cultural sensitivity training specific to regional Indigenous cultures, history and traditions in their province or territory (for example, Indigenous Perceptions Training, a five-day in-class workshop).
- In the Yukon, the RCMP has collaborated with the Yukon University on the development of The Yukon First Nations History and Cultures program. The mandatory training program was designed to help police, and other service providers, develop a broader understanding and appreciation about Yukon First Nations.
- The Professional Development Centre for Indigenous Policing, offered through the Canadian Police College, provides advanced training to police officers working in Indigenous communities. These officers operate in rural and remote locations and often assume leadership roles, and benefit from training to assist when responding to the legal, emotional and cultural aspects of policing. The intensive and interactive training helps students develop working relationships with colleagues from Indigenous communities across Canada.
A workforce that is representative of the communities it serves helps provide a valuable understanding of unique cultures, which enhances the RCMP's ability to create better relationships with Indigenous communities across the country.
Indigenous Pre-Cadet Training Program
The Indigenous Pre-Cadet Training (IPTP) is a modified three-week Depot training held at the RCMP Training Academy in Regina. It is a RCMP recruiting initiative designed to give young Indigenous people a hands-on perspective of a career in policing, while preparing candidates to be successful in the application process. Since 1994, young people of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis descent have been invited to join the IPTP which focuses on law enforcement, collaborative problem-solving skills, cultural diversity, and public speaking. The program also has elements of physical fitness and drills. Candidates are hired at entry level for the duration of the IPTP at Depot, and some are offered continued RCMP employment in administrative capacities.
Meeting with several specialized units in New Brunswick (J Division) and participating in events that kept me engaged in the workplace while also providing me with experience in challenging and educative work.
I enjoyed every part of the job placement.
In addition to the IPTP, there are other recruiting initiatives within provinces and territories allowing for Indigenous youth to gain experience with the RCMP. These programs are partnerships between the RCMP, provincial/territorial agencies and First Nations communities.
Soaring Eagles Indigenous Youth Cadet Camp
In August 2019, 25 Indigenous youth ages 16-19 from across Alberta attended the second annual camp, which provides insight into a career in policing, and also an opportunity for mentorship with RCMP members. The youth have classroom and hands-on learning opportunities, and participate in sport/fitness and cultural activities with Elders.
This camp was life changing, I keep in touch with the members and they are helping me to prepare for a career in the RCMP.
Indigenous Summer Student Program
The RCMP Qalipu/Miawpukek First Nations Summer Student Program participants attend RCMP headquarters in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, for a week of training, and are then employed by their band for nine weeks to focus on issues facing their community, crime prevention and safety. Due to the success of this program, there are plans to expand it to Indigenous groups in Labrador.
This program is important because it highlights the growing relationship between the RCMP and the Qalipu First Nation. It helped me to better understand the efforts put towards this relationship, and it allowed me to see what a policing career is truly about.
Northern Recruiting for Inuit Applicants
In Nunavut (V Division), the RCMP is implementing changes within the recruiting process for Inuit applicants. Those with a geographically restricted driver's licence are now able to move forward in completing other requirements without delay, such as the aptitude test, while they work towards acquiring this licence. The RCMP in Nunavut is also working in partnership with Nunavut Literacy Council (Ilitaqsiniq) to design and deliver a literacy and numeracy program. Prospective Inuit RCMP applicants can participate in the program, designed to prepare them in meeting the RCMP entrance requirements.
We have high hopes for the seven participants in this recruitment program because as officers, these young people will inspire youth across Nunavut to serve their territory and communities. Further, they will be instrumental in continuing to rebuild trust and reconciliation between the RCMP and Inuit communities.
Building on the Past
Formal Acts of Reconciliation
Reconciliation and effective police service delivery are both grounded in community relationships. The RCMP recognizes that steps towards reconciliation can take many forms, both at the community level and nation-wide. The RCMP encourages all employees and detachments to pursue reconciliation initiatives in a way that is meaningful to them. Below is a sample of activities that the organization and employees have led, or in which they have participated, along with Indigenous communities across the country.
Historic RCMP Agricultural Land Transferred to the Regina Indian Industrial School Commemorative Association
Over 500 First Nations and Métis children from 43 Indigenous communities across the prairies were forced to attend the Regina Indian Industrial School (RIIS), which was closed in 1910. It is estimated that at least 35 of the children who died at RIIS are buried in unmarked graves in the cemetery. The RCMP training academy (Depot) owned an adjacent piece of land to the cemetery. An arrangement was made to transfer the land to the Regina Indian Industrial School Commemorative Association (RIISCA), from the Government of Canada.
On June 25, 2019, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, the Honourable Ralph Goodale, announced the transfer of the RIIS cemetery from the RCMP as the Crown's representative, to the RIISCA.Footnote 4 This land transfer honours the memory of the children buried in the cemetery during the school's 19 years of operation. The RIISCA publicly expressed that this event exceeded their expectations, and was a true example of reconciliation. As an ongoing contribution, Depot has offered to assist with seasonal maintenance and repairs of cemetery grounds and fencing.
RCMP Land Transfer to the City of Winnipeg, Manitoba
In another collaborative act of reconciliation, in 2019 the RCMP donated a piece of land in Winnipeg to the city where an old forensic lab was previously located. This was done so that the municipality could erect a marker to commemorate the Assiniboia Residential School.
Repatriation of Métis Artifacts
The RCMP has been in possession of a series of Métis artifacts, namely a bible, crucifix and a book of poetry, once belonging or related to the Métis peoples and Louis Riel. In September 2017, the RCMP signed agreements with the Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) and the Métis National Council (MNC) to repatriate these historically significant items to the Métis Nation. These items are being held in safekeeping at the RCMP Heritage Museum in Regina until a suitable location is established, such as a Métis Heritage Centre or Museum planned for construction in Winnipeg,
Recognition of Commemorative Days and Traditions
The RCMP recognizes that steps towards reconciliation can take many forms, both at the community level, and nation-wide. The RCMP encourages all employees and detachments to pursue reconciliation initiatives in a way that is meaningful to them. Here's a sample of outreach activities that the organization and employees have led or participated in with Indigenous communities across Canada:
To acknowledge the past and to celebrate progress, there are several commemorative days that the RCMP supports by observing and celebrating with organized events. These include national days of awareness, and special events which are held across Canada.
Both Indigenous Awareness Week in May and National Indigenous Peoples Day, celebrated on June 21st, are observed. During these dates, activities are planned in all divisions to build employee awareness by showcasing Indigenous people's distinct heritage, language, culture and spiritual beliefs.
The RCMP National Eagle Staff
An Eagle Staff is a unique, sacred symbol that represents traditional Indigenous culture and clans. It is used at ceremonies and celebratory functions, much like a nation's flag would be. In 2018 during the Spring Equinox the RCMP's national Eagle Staff was birthed in a traditional First Nations ceremony guided by Algonquin First Nation Elders at the Odawa Friendship Centre in Ottawa. The Staff is feasted twice a year at the Spring Equinox (when the Eagle returns from its wintering grounds) and at the Fall Equinox (when the Eagle leaves for its wintering grounds). The purpose of the feast is to feed and honour the Staff's spirit and includes smudging, drumming, singing, food offerings and prayers led by Algonquin Elders. Since its birthing the Staff has been part of numerous community and RCMP events, including prominence during Remembrance Day Ceremonies at the National Cenotaph in Ottawa, a number of Change of Command Ceremonies across Canada and Commissioner Lucki's Change of Command Ceremony in September 2018 at the RCMP Training Academy in Regina, Saskatchewan.
I created this Staff under the guidance and direction from First Nations Elders and First Nations Military Veterans. The purpose of the Staff is to honour and respect First Nations people and their culture on Turtle Island. I was honoured to lead this initiative and to be the Staff keeper. The Staff also holds a number of teachings and as part of my responsibilities I have shared these teachings with many people. The Staff for me provides a deserving physical presence of First Nations culture at community and RCMP events the across Canada.
Eagle Feather Protocols
First introduced in Nova Scotia (H Division), and now in place in many other divisions, the RCMP is providing victims, witnesses, suspects and police officers the option to swear legal oaths on an eagle feather. The eagle feather is used in the same way as a Bible or affirmation. Many divisions across the country are now developing their own Eagle Feather Protocols in partnership with the Department of Justice, and through consultation with the First Nations peoples of that territory. Many First Nations teachings believe there is a direct connection between the Eagle and Creator, with the Eagle considered sacred. When the eagle feathers are sent to RCMP detachments, they are cleansed during a smudging ceremony led by an Elder. To honour the eagle feather, it is placed in a red case for safe storage, as the case symbolizes protection and healing. Cadets graduating from the RCMP Training Academy can now swear or affirm their graduating oath with an eagle feather. The swearing-in protocol at Depot will evolve to incorporate key spiritual components of Inuit and Métis cultures in the near future.
In a movement of reconciliation, the RCMP has committed to this initiative as a demonstration of recognizing the cultural divide among Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in New Brunswick and Canada. They have learned from our people that the eagle feather is a sacred ceremonial item that we hold to the highest sanctity. The RCMP developed protocols in consultations with traditional Elders to ensure that the eagle feather is respected and protected, and made available to our people when affirming evidence, or as a measure of cultural comfort when talking to police.
The 2019 National Indigenous Peoples Day marked the beginning of new positive opportunities for the RCMP in Newfoundland and Labrador (B Division). Divisional headquarters and the three district offices across the province were gifted Smudge Bowl Kits by Newfoundland Aboriginal Women's Network (NAWN), affording an opportunity for detachments to participate in traditional smudge ceremonies. Initiatives such as this provide improved cultural sensitivity and awareness, and create safer and more welcoming environments.
Several Indigenous employees in divisions across Canada have led the action to construct Sweat Lodges at local RCMP headquarters, including in Newfoundland and Labrador (B Division), Nova Scotia (H Division) and Saskatchewan at the Depot Training Academy, and employees have participated in Sweat Lodge ceremonies led by local Elders and Indigenous community members.
Seeing the construction of a Sweat Lodge at the RCMP Headquarters in St. John's, Newfoundland, following the introduction of the eagle feather in the judicial system, says to Indigenous People that we are on the road to reconciliation. Every aspect of a Sweat Lodge ceremony, including construction, is filled with deep spirituality. It is a special place where we connect, reflect, cleanse and heal, all of which are needed for true reconciliation.
I first must repeat that I was reluctant to participate in the project. I was not aware that I had held some negativity towards the RCMP because of my own perceptions and judgments. The construction of the Lodge and the ceremony was an opportunity for healing, understanding and support between the RCMP in Newfoundland and the Indigenous community. This was a humble and strong step towards forgiveness and reconciliation.
Participating in a Sweat Lodge is a spiritual ceremony for Indigenous people. As a residential school survivor, my journey to forgiveness was long, and I often relied upon Sweats to help me focus on the positives in life. I know the one the RCMP has on its Halifax Headquarters grounds will help others as well. Not only will it help to enlighten others with our cultural beliefs such as the Seven Sacred Teachings, but it may also help others to heal.
Sisters in Spirit
Each year on October 4th, awareness is brought to the issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) through Sisters in Spirit vigils in communities across Canada. In several divisions, the RCMP hosts a moment of silence to remember and honour Canada's Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Following the vigils, the RCMP launches a 10-week online social media campaign, which highlights 10 specific cases of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls from across the country. This initiative is an opportunity for communities across Canada to share information that may generate tips for investigators. With the public's help, it is hoped that closure can be provided to the families of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls victims.
Orange Shirt Day
Each year, September 30th marks Orange Shirt Day to honour the survivors of residential schools and recognize the resilience of Indigenous peoples. The RCMP across Canada support this initiative by asking employees to wear the orange shirt, which spurs awareness and encourages discussion on the Residential Schools and their legacy.
Preventing Violence towards Women and Girls
Several campaigns across Canada hold annual events to raise awareness about preventing violence towards women and girls. One such initiative is the "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes," an international men's march against rape, sexual assault and gender-based violence. Each year, members of RCMP detachments don red high heels to participate by joining in community walks.
The Moose Hide Campaign is a grassroots movement of Indigenous and non-Indigenous men taking a stand against violence towards women and children. For many years, Regular Members, Civilian Members and Public Service Employees have hosted Moose Hide events in communities in an effort to raise awareness and understanding of the harms of violence against women and girls. Since 2017, the RCMP has supported this campaign nationally by distributing the Moose Hide pins to employees to wear to signify honour, respect, and the protection of women and children. In February 2020, the British Columbia RCMP Commanding Officer (E Division) attended the Moose Hide Campaign provincial gathering and provided a keynote address to participants, and the division produced a video whereby people can pledge to help end this violence.
Community and Partnership Initiatives, Divisional and Detachment Leading Practices
The following stories showcase a sampling of activities across the country where the RCMP has participated with First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities in activities and actions of reconciliation.
The Secret Path, Indian Horse and The Grizzlies
As education and awareness development, film screenings were held at National Headquarters (Ottawa, Ont.) in 2019-2020. At each event, an Elder opened and shared a prayer. The animated film "The Secret Path" and an on-screen panel discussion on reconciliation was shown. The film tells the story of how a 12-year-old boy was affected by the Residential School system in northern Ontario. All employees were provided with the opportunity to attend this screening as an education on the legacy of Indian Residential Schools in Canada.
The film "Indian Horse" also deals with the history of Canada's Indigenous Residential Schools, and was shown at National Headquarters with actors from the film in attendance. The actors participated in a question and answer period with employees following the viewing to educate them on the trauma of the Residential School system.
To educate employees on the realities of trauma in northern communities, the film "The Grizzlies" was screened. This film tells the story of a small Arctic town struggling with the highest suicide rate in North America, where a group of Inuit students' lives are transformed when they are introduced to the sport of lacrosse. A panel discussion with cast members was held following the film, which engaged and challenged employees' perceptions of life for Inuit people.
Understanding that the sensitivity of these events could trigger strong emotions, support was available on site, and often the guest Elders also made themselves available to employees.
Love Bomb is a play focused on raising awareness about the disappearance of women and girls via sex trafficking. The RCMP supported the delivery of 14 performances to communities across the country, with a specific focus on Indigenous communities. The play is an innovative crime prevention/awareness tool that breaks social and cultural barriers surrounding the real risks and impacts of human trafficking, and assists people in understanding and recognizing warning signs.
Canadian Geographic Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada Floor Map (National Headquarters, Ottawa, Ontario)
On June 21, 2019, National Indigenous Peoples Day, the RCMP displayed the Canadian Geographic Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada giant floor map. The map outlines all the various Indigenous communities in Canada, and the locations and traditional names of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities. At their own pace, employees were able to interact together on the map and explore learning tools. The atlas also travelled to the Canadian Police College where employees and visiting police officers could explore the map and accompanying educational products.
New Front Lobby and Family Room at Winnipeg, Manitoba RCMP Headquarters
The front lobby of the RCMP Headquarters in Winnipeg, Manitoba (D Division) underwent a significant transformation and was revealed with a grand re-opening during the Commanding Officer's Christmas Open house in December 2019. Throughout the renovation process, the RCMP consulted Elders, Indigenous groups, and employees for feedback in design. The words "welcome" and "greetings" surround the front desk in English, French, Dene, Cree, Ojibway and Inuktitut. The display cases are filled with artifacts, symbols and artwork that are representative of the various communities across Manitoba.
Working with representatives from the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities, a new family room was created to provide a safe space for victims and families. It was designed with elements sacred to the three Indigenous groups.
Relationship Building Protocol
It was identified that a "Relationship Protocol" did not exist between the Native Council of Prince Edward Island and the RCMP (L Division). Acknowledging the specific needs and distinctions required in order to provide enhanced police services, the RCMP worked with the Native Council to create a "Relationship Building" protocol to establish agreements surrounding future matters as they relate to police services. The protocol was written and signed between the RCMP and the Native Council of PEI.
Consultation with First Nations Communities
The RCMP provides policing services to two First Nations communities in Prince Edward Island (L Division). In 2019, after discussion with the Councils of both Nations and the Commanding Officer's Indigenous Advisory Committee, the Commanding Officer committed to having the Councils more involved in the decision-making process when it comes to the selection of members being posted in the communities. Selected RCMP candidates underwent an interview with members of the Councils, who would then provide their recommendations to the Commanding Officer as part of the selection process. The adapted consultative process has resulted in positive feedback being reported by community members, who are very pleased to have direct input and engagement in the decision making process for policing in their community. This practice is taking place in other divisions across the country as well.
Situation Reports to First Nations Chiefs
Since August 2017, senior management of the RCMP in Nova Scotia (H Division) have been in the practice of notifying First Nations Chiefs throughout the province with "Situation Reports" on incidences that are taking place in their communities, such as significant drug seizures or persons reported missing. The titles in these reports are written in Mi'Kmaq to reflect the Mi'Kmaq's desire to retain their language. The reporting protocol is meant to improve communication between the RCMP and the First Nations communities. The Situation Reports provide awareness on issues that may affect a community, while still respecting the Privacy Act.
I find the Situation Reports informative, and they increase my level of awareness on issues affecting First Nations communities within the province. They demonstrate that the RCMP is proactively communicating with First Nations communities on a broader scale.
New Drive-In Model for Policing in Northern Manitoba
In 2018, an innovative new Drive-In model for policing in northern Manitoba (D Division) was implemented. Police officers based out of Thompson, Manitoba, rotate between working eight days in a remote community, followed by having six days back in Thompson. This approach provides a full-time RCMP presence in remote communities, allowing officers to build and strengthen relationships while maintaining a sustainable work-life balance. Several communities in Manitoba are currently utilizing this policing model, with others being considered to transition to it.
People are aware of the RCMP presence and that makes a big difference. We're addressing major issues like assaults, violence, and impaired driving. We've been waiting a long time for this. A lot of work has had to happen. We've worked together and shared a lot of ideas and resources.
Community Program Officer for Indigenous Communities
Community Program Officers (CPOs) for Indigenous communities provide enhanced service delivery with crime reduction education and leadership in New Brunswick (J Division). The RCMP hired four CPOs to work exclusively in 14 Indigenous communities in order to provide a continuum of culturally relevant support including proactive education and awareness, intervention and diversion opportunities, and community partnership initiatives. All are focused on fostering resiliency, promoting mental health, and addressing risk factors associated with crime.
Our community has been fortunate to have Teena Solomon-Ouellette as the CPO for several years. She is keen, patient, and always willing to work with whoever requires her help. She is a good leader, as shown by the diverse activities she organizes. She has also become the liaison between the RCMP in Tobique and community members. She works closely with the Director of the Youth Center, and makes sure that the Chief and Council, Kikahan members and community are made aware of any opportunities for employment, grants, etc. The Community Program Officer for Indigenous communities position will be included as part of the new Community Tripartite Agreement for Tobique.
Liaison Officer with Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service
Since August 2019, Corporal Terry Hamelin, who is a member of Quebec's Timiskaming First Nation, has been an RCMP liaison officer with the Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service (AMPS) in eastern Ontario (O Division). The RCMP partners with the AMPS to organize and attend community events and enhance the visibility of the RCMP in the Haudenosaunee Territory. Time is spent with members of the community, visiting with Elders and youth, volunteering at school activities and serving at Elders' centres. He also shares teachings of the creation story, smudging ceremony, and wampum belt traditions of the Haudenosaunee people. As an Indigenous officer, he feels that building relationships between the public and the police are crucial steps towards reconciliation and healing for all individuals.
Community policing is about building trust. I have the opportunity to meet and get to know the Haudenosaunee people, and be the face of the RCMP in the community. I understand there is still much I don't know, and I hope to develop more opportunities to learn from the community in the near future.
Butterfly Clan – Empowering Young Indigenous Women
The Butterfly Clan is a program in Manitoba (D Division) for Indigenous girls ages 10–15 to build friendships, while learning and discovering both their cultural and personal identities. It was created by a female Ojibwe/Métis RCMP officer who wanted to create a program to empower young Indigenous women and provide a place where they could embrace and connect to their Indigenous culture and ceremonies. The young women from the Steinbach area attend biweekly circles to share teachings such as oral traditions, ceremonies, drumming, singing and the importance of being thankful for and respectful of people and Mother Earth.
If I can take even one girl under my wing and empower her to embrace her identity, give her the feeling of safety and the sense of pride to walk on this earth as an Indigenous woman, I will be at peace.
First Cadet in RCMP History to Graduate Wearing Métis Sash
On July 22, 2019, Constable Lee Brochu was the first cadet in RCMP history to graduate from the RCMP Training Academy in Regina, Saskatchewan wearing his Métis Sash.
Before joining the RCMP, I was told from people that I would face racism and discrimination, especially being of Indigenous descent. Though I never let it deter me from chasing my dream of becoming a police officer, it was always in the back of my mind. While at Depot, being able to build a Sweat Lodge, swear my oath on an eagle feather, and incorporate my Métis sash (gifted by my mother) with my Red Serge uniform to graduate meant the world to both me and to my family. My experience at Depot was amazing. I confidently express to Indigenous youth or adults that are interested in joining the RCMP that discrimination is not tolerated.
Louis Riel Vigil
Each year, the RCMP training academy Depot in Regina, Saskatchewan, honours Louis Riel on November 16, the date of his hanging, at the site of the original North West Mounted Police Guardhouse. A procession walks to the execution site, and carries out a smudging and prayer ceremony. After the vigil, the participants and other community members gather in the Depot chapel for closing words and further discussion. A nonpartisan memorial is being built on the site, on the grounds of Depot.
The RCMP's (Depot's) leadership and participation in the Louis Riel Vigil is a true example of reconciliation.
We Took Care of Them: Special Constables Exhibit
Corporal April Bell and Elder Paul Andrew from the Northwest Territories (G Division) travelled to different communities to interview Special Constables and their families about their time serving the Northwest Territories. Their stories and accounts now form part of the exhibit We Took Care of Them: Special Constables in the NWT at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre in Yellowknife. The display recently won The Canadian Museum Association Cultural Award. In addition to the display in the museum, there is an online virtual companion exhibit, on the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre websiteFootnote 7. The virtual exhibit is presented in 11 languages.
I feel very honoured to be part of the project that has recognized the Special Constables and the contribution they made to the livelihood of the RCMP and its members. I would feel remiss if I didn't acknowledge the enormous commitment, support and dedication of the families who stayed home while the Special Constables were away for weeks at a time. RCMP members were often provided essential and lifesaving clothing that was hand-sewn by the Special Constable's wives and/or other community members.
Special Constables had the skills to survive extreme conditions, and helped guide the members by dog team to different communities, which also included checking on the safety of hunter/trappers at their camps. The Special Constables' place in the history of the RCMP should never be forgotten, as their ability to translate, support and guide the RCMP throughout their duties not only kept them safe, but also provided essential services to the people of the north. Masi.
Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls place of reflection
The RCMP training academy, Depot, in Regina, Saskatchewan, has developed an outdoor place of reflection as a monument for anyone who has been impacted or suffered losses related to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG). This place of reflection was developed with Elder oversight, and included the involvement of employees. The wheel is located on the grass area adjacent to the RCMP Heritage Centre.
RCMP Feast and Round Dance
First Nations Feasts and Round Dances are ceremonies that are normally held in the fall and winter months to honour the memories of those who have gone before us. The RCMP in Saskatchewan (F Division), along with other police agencies, has committed to co-hosting four Feast and Round Dances honouring missing and murdered Indigenous persons. The first of four was held in Saskatoon in 2018. The 2019 Feast and Round Dance was co-hosted in Prince Albert, and saw 500 people from all over the province attend. The third Feast and Round Dance took place on November 20, 2020, in Yorkton. It was a virtual Round Dance, and the Feast, which is very significant, was a "pick up/drive-thru" style to follow public health orders. The fourth Feast and Round Dance is slated to be held in North Battleford in accordance with public health directives.
It helps with the healing process. It helps establish better lines of communication, and better lines of trust between Indigenous people and authorities.
Virtues and Community Belonging Project
In January 2017, several members of the community in Onion Lake, Saskatchewan, initiated a project to promote family virtues and parental engagement in education. Their plan, called "The Virtues and Community Belonging Project," was to construct a symbolic metal teepee monument in the heart of the community. With funding secured from the RCMP Family Violence Initiative Fund, members of the Onion Lake Cree Nation hosted a sod-turning ceremony at the local school. Families were invited to provide a tablespoon from their home, which was then engraved with their name on one side and a community virtue on the other. These spoons were then hung on the 31.5 foot teepee, which became a large wind-chime to be heard throughout the four directions. An opening ceremony was held on September 3, 2019, with plans to celebrate annually on Family Day at the monument.
A sense of belonging is important for any race to succeed and find balance, to really connect and know where they originate. When the structure came into the vision of our team, I said, wow, this will allow connections between each and every community member, along with their selected virtues, to be placed on the teepee. Every year it will be celebrated on Family Day and new spoons will be added.
I also would like to mention that for years as Indigenous people, we were stripped of our own beliefs and traditions, and now need to build this for our future generations. This teepee will bridge that past and instill our proud heritage as Cree people. It's important to remember who we are as Neheyowak, our legacy, history and cultural identity so that reconciliation as a nation is attainable.
Heart Gardens Dedicated to Local First Nations
In honour of all Residential School survivors and their families, the RCMP in the Yukon (M Division) along with community members have built many detachment "Heart Gardens". In Whitehorse, members of the RCMP and the local First Nations communities, Ta'an Kwäch'än Council and Kwanlin Dün First Nation, gathered together in front of the RCMP headquarters to plant hundreds of pink and red petunias in the shape of a heart.
In August 2019, the RCMP in Yukon dedicated its new Heart Garden to the Ta'an Kwäch'än Council and Kwanlin Dün First Nation. In the community of Mayo, the rocks for the Heart Garden were collected from the north, south, east and west settlement lands of the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyak Dun. The colour purple was chosen for the heart, for its association to power, both earthly and spiritual, and for its healing association for all to become one with the spirit. The detachment was commended by the territorial Minister of Justice when visiting the Mayo detachment for capturing the spirit of reconciliation.
Strength Through Sewing
During a series of mittens and parka making workshops in Paulatuk, Northwest Territories (G Division), local Elders taught RCMP officers and other community members their traditional methods and sewing techniques. The RCMP Family Violence Initiative Fund provided the finances needed for the materials, including essential sewing supplies. At the conclusion of the workshops, a child's traditional parka was made with the remnant material, and Elders were consulted to identify a child in the community who was gifted the parka.
I was happy and encouraged that our local RCMP was interested in working with the community. They were not forced - we all felt welcomed and not intimidated. The RCMP members are the people that really wanted to be involved in the program, and it was refreshing that they wanted to learn alongside us. That's what our community needed. And to have all the material we needed to complete the project was awesome. My son has a warm parka because of it!
Port Alberni RCMP in British Columbia (E Division) developed a program called "Culture Share" to address instances of racism in the community. The program is designed to prevent cultural-based bullying and racism, while providing coping skills and strategies to students who are victims of this behaviour. With assistance from the Tseshaht, Hupacasath and Huu-ay-aht First Nations, "Culture Share" was delivered to every grade 7 class in the Port Alberni Valley. The program has grown to become a cultural event, with students and community members as expert guides in the creation of Nuu-chah-nulth style spears, clubs and talking sticks, as well as Highland style spears, clubs, a model boat and a crooked stick.
The program has had an impact. Interviews with Haahuupayak students identified "Culture Share" as a common theme behind their continued enrolment in school. Students reported knowing their fellow students through "Culture Share," and felt more at ease about being an Indigenous person in high school. One student shared how the program stopped the teasing that he and his classmates received when speaking French in the school yard.
The parallels that the RCMP member was able to draw between his own culture and that of the Canadian First Nations experience showed my class a positive direction we all need to take to make reconciliation happen. He not only put on an engaging and thought-provoking program that made students examine their own beliefs, but created an interactive spectacle that the students couldn't help but talk about long after. His interactions with my students showed them that RCMP members can be thoughtful, well-spoken individuals who can be trusted because they are people, with histories and feelings - just like us.
Stoney Nakoda First Nations Teepee-raising
In July 2019, the RCMP in Cochrane, Alberta (K Division) borrowed a teepee for presentation when the RCMP Musical Ride toured the community. When members of the detachment partnered with a member from the Stoney Nakoda Nation to learn how to raise the teepee, they learned that the teepee being raised was not distinct to the Stoney Nakoda Nation as it was of Cree origin. As a result of this, a Stoney Nakoda Nation teepee was commissioned, acknowledging the distinction of the Stoney Nakoda people. The initiative was brought forward to the Community Consultative Group and Elders who partnered with the Cochrane detachment to assist in finding a local artist to paint the canvas and source the poles to raise the teepee. Upon completion a teepee-raising ceremony was planned. This initiative was welcomed by community members, and a local councillor acknowledged it would build stronger ties and continue reconciliation efforts. It was also seen as a way to help heal the traumas of the past with the Nation and the Cochrane RCMP.
The experience and teachings shared by the First Nation members with our detachment members on the raising of the Stoney teepee has been a positive one. The raising of the teepee at the site of the Stoney Nakoda Community Police Office will acknowledge our history, and our journey forward as we work towards reconciliation with the Stoney Nakoda First Nation community we serve.
Youth Cultural Camps
For many years, Community Constable Steve Beck has been running youth cultural camps in Hay River, Northwest Territories (G Division). The "Beaver Camps" take place in the spring, and the "Take Your Kids Trapping Camps" are in the winter months. The camps teach youth Indigenous traditions and survival skills, including trapping, skinning, connection through respect for the land, and leadership skills. This initiative was a way of sharing the traditional teachings with youth in his community long before he even joined the RCMP as a Community Constable. He has been running the camps for 25 years. In August 2019, Constable Beck was awarded the South Slave Divisional Education Council Excellence in Education Award for his delivery of the youth cultural camps.
As an Indigenous member, I was excited to receive the support from the RCMP to continue the on–the-land programs I had started, after joining the RCMP in 2011. I have seen the positive swing towards reconciliation, and through the youth programs, have developed strong bonds and trust within the communities and outlying reserves. At the same time, it has also inspired youth who started as participants in the youth camps to come back as young adults to become mentors and facilitators.
Youth Recruiting Canoe Journey
The West Kelowna, Okanagan and Penticton, British Columbia (E Division) RCMP First Nations Policing (FNP) members participated in an RCMP youth canoe journey on Okanagan Lake in August 2019. The goal of the journey was to help build better relationships between the RCMP and the Okanagan and Penticton First Nations communities, further boost the recruitment of Indigenous people in the RCMP, and educate Indigenous youth on the importance of water safety. Eighteen youths participated in the canoe journey from a number of Indigenous communities.
These youths are interested in joining the RCMP one day and will benefit from the challenges, team building, friendships, and life skills they receive during this journey. According to one of the participants:
I've wanted to join the RCMP since I was a kid. I just want to give back to the community and help people, make their day better. I highly recommend this experience to anyone interested in becoming a police officer. We all have something in common, wanting to give back to our communities.
Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation Youth Visit to Canadian Police College
In October 2019, the RCMP partnered with the Kitigan Zibi Police Department and the Canadian Police College in Ottawa, Ontario to host a group of 24 school-age children from the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation, Quebec, so they could learn about the RCMP and its various units. This is planned to be an ongoing event.
Mi'kmaq Youth Decal Contest
In May 2019, Pictou District RCMP in Nova Scotia (H Division) held a contest with Pictou Landing First Nation School that invited students to submit traditional Mi'kmaq artwork to be used as community logo decals for two new police vehicles. Numerous art pieces were submitted during the contest, and the winning 10-year-old artist's work is now seen on the community police vehicle.
This was an example of how well the local detachment listens and works with their community. The vehicle decals added a sense of pride for the community. This is an example of how the RCMP has worked to strengthen their relationship with the community.
Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation Youth Video "Fight For Hope"
The Mayerthorpe, Alberta RCMP detachment (K Division) was approached by a community member who heads a local First Nation youth initiative. The youth group collaborated with the RCMP to bring awareness to the issue of family and domestic violence, as they saw how it was affecting their community. A music video was developed and launched, featuring songs written and performed by the youth group members based on the theme of ending violence. The video was launched on YouTube on September 9, 2019, and has over 10,000 viewsFootnote 8. Further awareness has been created with the distribution of silicon wrist bands displaying the ending violence theme. The wrist bands display three messages: "WAKAMNE – ANSN" which means "sacred lake" in the Stoney language representing the shores of Lac Ste. Anne, and "FIGHT FOR HOPE" with a hidden message inside the wristband that reads: "So let your voice stand out," which is a lyric from the song.
Indigenous Awareness Presentation to Employees
In March 2019, a workshop entitled "Better Understanding the Indigenous World" was delivered to RCMP employees in Montreal, Quebec (C Division). The guest presenter was a member of the Huron-Wendat Nation, who delivered an overview of his experience with Indigenous clients, both in correctional institutions and within Quebec communities themselves. A detailed historical, cultural and social context underlying the current relationships between First Nations, Inuit and non-Indigenous peoples was presented, along with the importance of being sensitive to Indigenous cultural distinctions when members are providing service to these communities.
Mi'kmaq Confederacy of Prince Edward Island Cultural Training
In a commitment to provide Indigenous cultural training to employees working in Prince Edward Island (L Division), the RCMP collaborated with the local Mi'kmag peoples to develop a one-day workshop on the history of the Mi'kmag people and their culture. This workshop is mandatory training and very well received.
Restorative Justice Culturally Relevant Training
In August 2019, to assist First Nations movements towards successfully developing their own healing and sentencing circles, the RCMP in Yukon (M Division) planned and organized a culturally appropriate workshop on Restorative Justice practices. This training resulted in meaningful engagement focused on the needs of the community, with a prominent Indigenous instructor facilitating the workshop. The training entitled, "Foundations of Effective First Nations Based Restorative Justice Practices and Principles" promoted the benefits of restorative practices as an effective compliment to the criminal justice system.
The RCMP in Nunavut (V Division) is partnering with Pirurvik Centre, an Inuit centre of learning dedicated to the Inuit well-being through investment in the culture and heritage of Inuit people to coordinate a two-week pre-deployment program for all Regular Members being transferred to Nunavut. The program will focus on Inuit cultural training, and the history of the Inuit. The RCMP also delivers mental health first aid training to members to educate about the specific issues faced by the Inuit. This training better prepares officers to deliver trauma-informed, quality policing.
Inuit Children's Books
The RCMP in Nunavut (V Division) are working in partnership with the Government of Nunavut's Department of Education, and the Inuktut Titqqiriniq Balance Literacy Program to create three children's books for grades one to three. The first book is about a young Inuit girl listening to stories told by her grandfather, who shares his work as an RCMP Special Constable within his Nunavut community. The second book follows the same character after she has become an adult, telling her story about joining the RCMP and her journey through Depot. The third book continues the story, as we follow her in her career as a Constable working, providing safety tips, and guidance to community members in Nunavut. This initiative demonstrates inclusiveness and collaboration with local organizations to build trust in police relations.
Assessing impacts and ensuring our actions are meaningful is a cornerstone for reconciliation. The aim is to restore, strengthen, and maintain trust with Indigenous people, communities and employees. All reconciliation directions must be rooted in open, transparent, and honest dialogue with Indigenous peoples, and account for their perspectives. Going forward, measuring performance as it relates to reconciliation will allow the organization to ensure progress is made. Currently, the RCMP has several instruments that allow for quantitatively gauging movement towards the goal of reconciliation. These will be referenced and built upon in future years. Numbers tell one story but qualitative assessment is also important and will be captured by testimonials, narratives, and input directly from Indigenous peoples, communities, employees, and advisory bodies. The stories of the RCMP efforts and their effects shed valuable support to the real spirit of renewing trust and strengthening relationships.
The RCMP Survey Centre
This unit collects data from several survey sources in order to assess the success of RCMP service delivery, which will form the key performance indicators for reconciliation. In 2019-2020, several surveys were deployed which collected baseline material on which to build the direction for reconciliation initiatives. Four of these policing surveys were conducted to obtain public, partner and stakeholder feedback on RCMP service delivery.
The "Client and Partner Survey" had questions to assess ratings for "trust and confidence" in the RCMP. While the survey results demonstrated the client groups are generally satisfied with the RCMP's service, they also pointed to potential areas for improvement.
Results are available at Client and partner survey results.
A second survey, the "Policing Partners and Stakeholders Survey," included policing partners and stakeholders who are representatives of other police services and government agencies/departments the RCMP works with, as well as non-governmental organizations which have a strong interest in RCMP activities (such as civil liberties associations and legal organizations).
Results are available at Survey of Policing Partners and Stakeholders 2019-2020.
The third survey which provided Canadians' views of RCMP policing services is a public opinion survey of adult residents of Canada, that focused on locations policed by the RCMP. Across Canada, a random sample of respondents was polled via phone and online, with an emphasis on areas where the RCMP is the police of jurisdiction.
Results are available at Canadians' Views of RCMP Policing Services 2019-2020.
The fourth assessment tool in 2019-2020 is the "Survey of Contract Partners," which was a survey of mayors, Indigenous leaders, and local, provincial and territorial government representatives who were responsible for RCMP contracts within their respective jurisdictions.
The RCMP regularly conducts a survey to determine the satisfaction of its contract partners with aspects of the RCMP's performance. The target population is comprised of mayors, Indigenous leaders, and other local government representatives in areas policed by the RCMP, as well as provincial and territorial government representatives who are responsible for contracts within their respective jurisdictions. The Contract Partners survey is designed to assess the RCMP's performance, measure progress, and identify areas for improvement. It also captures information on satisfaction with our service, joint efforts, partnerships, communication, and accountability.
Conducting this type of survey on a regular basis allows the RCMP to understand our partners' perceptions and accurately measure improvements.
Data collection took place between the months of January and March 2020. As the approach for the Contract Partners study was an attempted census of 1,692 identified partners, there is no margin of sampling error to be estimated or reported. In total, 688 responses were obtained nationwide, for a response rate of 41%.
|The RCMP has effective local leaders||81%||77%||75%|
|I have trust and confidence in the RCMP||83%||84%||86%|
|The RCMP is contributing to safer Indigenous communities||62%||65%||62%|
|The RCMP is advancing reconciliation with Indigenous peoples of Canada||59%||-||-|
|The RCMP treats Indigenous persons fairly||76%||73%||72%|
Questions were answered on a five-point scale and the percentages presented are people who agree and strongly agree.
For new questions in 2019-20, no results appear for previous years.
The RCMP Annual Performance Plan
The RCMP also has an internal mechanism for tracking results. The Annual Performance Plan (APP) assesses detachment objectives linked to policing services, which includes efforts to advance reconciliation at the detachment level. The APP is designed to facilitate good management practices for detachments, and provides the foundation for meaningful activity. The intent is to improve planning, evaluation, management and reporting of detachment objectives. The process of APP reporting involves consultation with communities to develop priority policing objectives, with thoughtful initiative work plans, and to follow the progress of the initiative through quarterly reporting. A review was conducted of the APP data pertaining to Indigenous policing. A total of 351 objectives were directly related to Indigenous communities, with six objective trends representing Indigenous related objectives used by detachments.
Having a representative workforce is another objective of reconciliation, and so recruiting initiatives and statistics will be tracked. Approaches to recruiting must be culturally appropriate for the RCMP to be considered an employer of choice. Approaches are in place to continue the development of an organization that is focussed on a positive employee experience.
In analyzing the data from the Survey Centre and the APPs, the RCMP can evaluate its current status in regards to reconciliation initiatives, but also identify potential gaps, and implement plans to close those gaps. Furthermore, in assessing reconciliation and determining how to properly measure its performance and progress, the RCMP will continue to liaise with the necessary partners and stakeholders. In doing so, other performance measuring methods may arise, and be implemented to ensure support to the advancement of reconciliation efforts.
Conclusion: Continuing the Journey
The RCMP is working with other federal departments to review and assess the MMIWG Calls for Justice and determine the next steps needed to collaboratively prevent violence against Indigenous women and girls and Two-Spirit-LGBTQQIA+ people. The RCMP remains committed to improving the relationship with Indigenous people, supporting survivors and families, and ensuring that investigations are robust and professional and result in justice for the victims and their families.
Recognizing that the work of reconciliation is long-term and requires many participants, in the coming year, the RCMP will work with the Government of Canada partners to align actions to the National Action Plan as well as advance specific policies, procedures, and processes that will further close policing gaps identified in Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Looking forward, the next year will see more focus on policy and procedural changes. It will look different to each service area, but the goal of strengthening trust is fundamental to the delivery of culturally relevant policing services – and the RCMP aims to deliver no less.
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