Bridge the gap (program helps Natives to join RCMP).
On Sept 2, the RCMP welcomed four Aboriginal men onto the force. Darrell Stranger, David Aglukart, Brian Harris and Chris Rothecker were also participants in the Aboriginal Cadet Development Program.
The program is aimed at assisting Aboriginal people who may not meet the RCMP minimum requirements. Disadvantages in various aspects include: driver training, education and / or physical ability. These drawbacks are due, in large part, to the isolated areas in which Native people live and their inaccessibility to academic and other facilities.
Aglukart, for example, lived in Arviat, N.W.T. and did not have the need for a valid driver's license as most of his commuting was achieved off road by snow mobile or four-wheelers. Stranger, from Peguis, Man., needed help upgrading his communication skills.
Asked if he thought the government was "playing favorites" to minority groups, Stranger replied, "If anyone thinks that, I'd tell them to go live on a reserve and see what it's like to live there."
Traditionally, Native representation on the force had been low. Up until 1989, a "special constable" status was given to Natives who were not required to meet the regular standards of RCMP officers. Their duties were that of peace officers. In 1990, the Aboriginal Cadet Development Program was implemented as government officials realized the need for Native representation on the force. In 1993, due to lack of funding, the program was terminated. Then, in 1995, the program was resurrected. RCMP Assistant Commissioner Cleve Cooper admits, "We were not always graceful or successful in dealing with minority groups."
Through the partnership between Human Resources Canada and the RCMP, $2 million was made available to the program. Since 1995, the total number of cadets is 141. An impressive 52 cadets have graduated, 13 are in basic training, 44 are currently on the program and 32 have been released for various reasons.
The program consists of a three week assessment at the RCMP depot in Regina. Then, time permitting, the applicant is recomended back to his or her community for RCMP shadowing. This training helps the individual understand the logistics of a regular detachment and what is required of an RCMP officer. Here, the candidate gains knowledge through ride-alongs, office work and general community involvement in order to attain the RCMP's basic entry requirements. After successfully completing this portion of their training, the candidate is sent back to the RCMP Training Academy for the full cadet training.
The RCMP has reached their 5 per cent goal of Native representation on the force. Assistant commissioner Cooper notes, "This percentage is significant when you consider that Canada's total population of Natives is 4 per cent." Currently, the RCMP's aim is to surpass this percentage, and their recruitment concentration is in more remote areas such as the Northwest Territories.
Assistant Commissioner Cooper adds, "We owe it to our families and communities that they (Natives) are able to police themselves in our country."
Aglukart echoes the program's success, "When Natives see a familiar face policing in their community, it helps them as a whole to feel comfortable with the police instead of feeling shut-out or separated."
For more information on the program, contact Corporal Doug Reti, on ROSS@dreti, phone: (613) 998-2405 at Aboriginal Policing branch, Room B-500, 1200, Vanier Pkwy, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0R2.
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|Date:||Nov 1, 1997|
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