Mounties trying to build more trust with NWT communities

Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Royal Canadian Mounted Police

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The head of the RCMP in the Northwest Territories is trying to build more trust between the police and aboriginal communities.

The chief commanding officer of the “G” division, Wade Blake, said a new advisory committee will help him to get feedback on how the Mounties are doing.

“What I want to know is, is our police policy in regard to aboriginal policing, is that working in the Northwest Territories? They’ll get to look at the policy and say, you’re out to lunch. Or, hey, you’re on the right track. Here’s something how you can enhance it,” he said.

Blake said there are expectations for new recruits to learn about local culture, including a checklist for officers when they arrive in a community. The officers are now expected to meet with the chief and council. They must also sit down with community members and attend a feast within their first month of being there.

Blake said he wants to know whether these policies are working.

Chief Supt. Wade Blake, the head of the RCMP in the Northwest Territories, said there is some distrust of the Mounties. He hopes the new aboriginal advisory committee will help improve the relationship between the police and people in N.W.T. communities. (CBC)
The new advisory committee also suggests community members to act as aboriginal observers who will monitor major police investigations.

Blake said they’ve done this a handful of times in the past. The most recent example was when RCMP officers shot and killed Karen Lander in Yellowknife.

“We can’t have everybody there. But there is that, I’ll say it, there is that distrust to what we say and it’s going to help us build that trust back. We want our word to be true,” said Blake.

Dene elder Francois Paulette said Lander’s death brought the need for cultural training for officers to the forefront. Paulette said young recruits who come from the south need a better understanding of the issues people face here.

“To work in the communities, with the leadership, to give some understanding of what people went through here in the North. In terms of the residential school, the impact, the colonization, the assimilation of people and the work that needs to do to unravel that and to de-colonize people and to have reconciliation,” he said.

Paulette said he’d like to see a program where new recruits could spend some time on the land.

The advisory committee will be made up of representatives from each region, as well as the Native Women’s Association. Starting in September, the group will meet every three months.

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