Original Published on Jul 18, 2022 at 08:25

By Ryan Clarke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Blood Tribe Police Service held a pancake breakfast for the community  Friday morning aiming to improve recruitment within the community and  helping close barriers hindering Indigenous members from careers in  Canadian Law Enforcement.

 Hosted in Standoff, recruiters from  multiple branches of law enforcement in Canada were present including  the Lethbridge Police Service and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police,  hoping to encourage Kainai Nation members to pursue different career  opportunities.

 Brice Iron Shirt, Chief of the Blood Tribe Police  Service, said “It’s a great opportunity for us to increase not only our  applicants, but every other police service.”

 BTPS has been  working with the community to expand its recruitment, in partnership  with Red Crow Community College (RCCC), helping Indigenous applicants  through the process of becoming an officer.

 Hadija Little Wolf,  administrative sergeant, is the creator behind the program, hoping to  close barriers and get more applicants through the recruitment process.

  “The goal would be to bring Indigenous people in to do the program.  They would essentially be ready to be handpicked by Calgary Police  Service, Lethbridge Police Service, Canadian military, and the RCMP. To  come in and just handpick them because they will be ready to just be  hired.”

 Little Wolf says BTPS has a low success rate for  recruitment. in 2021, of the 15 applicants only four were successfully  hired, with similar numbers in previous years.

 Iron Shirt says the hardest part of the recruitment process for Indigenous People is the difference in culture.

  “Our thought process is a lot different than the Western way of  thinking, very linear and straightforward. We think in abstract, and  that’s where things start becoming difficult for us. That’s why the  numbers are so low, it’s because our mind processes are so much  different than the actual people that wrote the tests, that’s why  there’s a high failure rate.”

 Iron Shirt says changes need to be  made to specific cultures, like Indigenous policing, creating a test  that is different from the cookie-cutter style of having the same  background and knowledge. Adding that the hardest part of policing is  entering an area where the culture is drastically different from an  officer’s way of thinking and trying to control a situation without the  knowledge of the land and the people.

 “We’re a multicultural group that needs to be more accepting of everything, and not just make it one way.”

  Programs like the one at Red Crow Community College are the first steps  to breaking down barriers and getting more willing applicants into the  field. The Alberta Government’s new Community Policing Grant, announced  back in June, is also helping recruitment with $150,000 going towards  Indigenous Policing. Creating a three-phase process that will go towards  RCCC’s policing recruitment initiative, the results should help add  five police officers to the BTPS within three years.

 With more opportunities arising, the recruitment for future Indigenous people in police services is promising.

  “I feel like now’s the time, because a lot of hidden history is  becoming so loud that we can’t ignore it anymore,” said Little Wolf.  “Now is our time to really start creating our own way of doing things,  our own way of learning, and of teaching. Creating programs is really  important, so that we are involved at every level of the justice system,  or even every level of life. That’s where the diversity comes in.”

This item reprinted with permission from The Herald, Lethbridge, Alberta