Montana First Nation youth participated in the Soaring Eagles Indigenous Youth Camp Friday.
The regular week-long camp was modified due to COVID-19 into a one-day event with 19 young participating.
The camp introduces Indigenous youth to a career in law enforcement, emergency response and community involvement.
The program is hosted by RCMP’s “K” division recruiting unit in partnership with the Justice and Solicitor General and First Nations Policing Services. MISD (Montana Integrated Services Department) partnered with RCMP to host the camp.
“It’s a one-day event and we hope to get youth to get interested in working for the RCMP,” said Shane Strongman, MISD Youth and Family Support coach at Montana First Nation.
Strongman said the one-day event is a condensed version to what he attended when he was a youth.
“When I was a summer student I had the luxury of travelling to Regina in Saskatchewan. I spent two weeks experiencing what the RCMP trainees do. I got to fly a plane, experiment with hand held rifles, race on the race tracks in a police car and experience the wrath of 20,000 jalapeño (pepper spray),” said Strongman.
“We really want to see more First Nations people to consider a job in the RCMP,” said Kim Mueller. Sgt. NCO/ic Proactive Recruiting and Indigenous Policing at RCMP.
Mueller says the RCMP really want to go forward in healing and reconciliation by increasing representation of First Nations with their services and working in First Nations communities.
She says that First Nations who work within the RCMP are leading the charge in creating positive change and teaching the RCMP how to be better members.
“My passion as a First Nations person and having worked within the RCMP for 15 years. I absolutely love it. I spent all my service working in First Nations communities,” said Mueller.
“I feel blessed to have a career with great benefits, and I get paid to work with people that I share a common culture with, attend ceremonies with and get paid to attend a pow wow.”
Mueller says that youth thinking of this as a career have options.
“You don’t have be on a reserve but that is what I have chosen because I feel that I could make the biggest difference and be a role model,” said Mueller.
The RCMP brought in RCMP civilians (non-police officers) who work within the RCMP to talk about the work that they do. Mueller says the branch is called the operation communication centre (OCC) and whenever Albertans call 911 it all goes to the dispatchers of the OCC.
“One of the reasons why I want to increase our Indigenous recruiting efforts is that representation matters,” said Tracey Duval, operation communication centre managers with the RCMP.
Duval says what the OCC tries to do is provide empathy to all callers.
Being a Caucasian female from southern Alberta, she says she has a limited perspective into the lived experiences of First Nations communities.
“Ultimately representation does matter. I think it’s important to have that diversity in our organization. Right now, our communication centre is majority female and white.
“Anytime we have others join our ranks it provides that diversity to our callers and each other. To provide those perspectives that we bring to the world is important,” said Duval.