The RCMP, Canada’s federal police force, has a rather nasty reputation for antagonizing and brutalizing Indigenous communities. Discrimination against other PoCs usually (usually) tends to stay in the realm of antagonism. Regardless, the RCMP’s Commissioner (that’s fancy Canadian speak for “boss”) has admitted there is racism in the RCMP:
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police will find new ways to strengthen relations with Indigenous communities, the force’s chief vowed on Tuesday, but he faces an uphill climb.
RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson and Assembly of First Nations’ National Chief Perry Bellegarde signed a memorandum of understanding as part of the Indigenous group’s three-day general assembly.
Paulson, months ago, admitted “there are racists” within the national police force — Bellegarde underscored that when he introduced the chief on Tuesday.
Admission’s not a bad start, I guess.
Paulson used the opportunity to acknowledge the police force’s role in the residential school system — the program whereby the Canadian government arrested Indigenous youth and took them to boarding schools designed to discourage and assimilate their cultural identity.
“As a father I can’t imagine strangers, much less representatives of the state, taking away my children to live somewhere else where their culture is repressed,” Paulson said, adding, “as a police force we have to own up to the roles we played in those dark times.”
The aforementioned residential schools weren’t 100% closed until 1996, meaning there are still many people, young Indigenous adults especially, dealing with the Complex PTSD from their state-sanctioned abuse.
Again: Admission is progress…
Paulson says he recognizes that the signed agreement are just “words on a page,” and are meaningless unless the force pledges to put serious action toward achieving them, though he noted he was proud of the progress made in improving relations with Indigenous communities thus far.
At least he admits they are, so far, empty promises. Need a little bit more than “oops my bad.”
Hopefully this represents the first of many steps.