Cst. Matt Hope shows off his Haida wall art and tattoo, having previously served in the west coast island rainforest. Now working in Rankin Inlet, the English-born rugby lover prides himself on working with schools and connecting with the community. Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo Stewart Burnett, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Travelling, rugby, new horizons and adventure brought Cst. Matt Hope from the United Kingdom to Canada.

He spent his 20s working in small-scale motor gearbox installations and construction-related jobs, but the repetitiveness bored him.

“I wanted a job that wasn’t mundane,” he said about the inspiration to join the RCMP at age 30 in Canada. “You can have all the best intentions and best-laid plans in this job, and minute one, those are thrown out the window and you’re off doing something else.”

And with his brother being a police officer back in Wales and a great-grandfather who was second in charge of the Metropolitan Police Force, it was “kinda meant to be.”

He had considered working in the Vancouver Police Department, living in the city, but ultimately wanted to experience the diversity the RCMP could offer.

“I was all the way across the world from my family,” recalls Hope. “I thought I might as well see as much of this country as I can, and the RCMP being the vessel to be able to do that is incredible.”

He started in Trail, B.C., before spending several years in Haida Gwaii on the west coast, which he raved about, from the landscape to the people, culture, art, wildlife and everything in between. His home is adorned with gifts and art he received or collected while there.

His original plan was to go to Campbell River for his next job, but peers of his recommended Nunavut, and he wanted the excitement of something new. He’s been in Rankin Inlet with his wife, daughter and dog since March 2022.

Hope loves the excitement of the career. He’s worked on a tactical response containment team as a medic, supported emergency response teams with active shooters and everything on the scale.

But the rewarding part of his job is interacting with youth.

“It’s the biggest difference we can make as police officers,” he said.

Usually, people aren’t calling the RCMP because something good happened, he said.

“They’re calling us in most cases because something bad’s happened, something terrifying, scary, traumatizing, or something’s been stolen or what have you.”

So for Hope, it’s great to counterbalance that with going into the schools, playing sports with the youth and being a positive face in the community.

He loves to engage children in sports – and is a die-hard rugby fan – and says he can see the benefits that interaction and connection has.

“I had a kid once who came up, he said, ‘Ah, I was going to do something really silly the other day. It was going to involve taking something that’s not mine and breaking some things.’ He’s like, ‘I didn’t want to come in the school or get taken to the police detachment and see you and you being disappointed in me, so I didn’t do it.”

That human interaction is vital to the work he does and his role in the community. And that respect-building beforehand helps ease future interactions, even among adults, explained Hope.

He said he’s spoken to many people he’s arrested the night before the next day in the grocery store.

“There’s no hard feelings,” said Hope. “Like, ‘Hey, I’m just doing my job, how are you doing today, you feeling better?’”

Rapport building early on, especially in a small town where there’s no hiding, helps in the long run, he said.

But besides future deterrence, being a positive and visible member of the community is a goal in itself for Hope.

“In my mind, the only really important goal any police officer can have is we leave the community a little bit better than when we got there,” he said.

The Englishman-turned-Canadian-cop is enjoying Rankin Inlet, learning the culture and seeing the land. His favourite things are fixing kid’s bikes or playing pick-up basketball.

He hopes his friendliness can help improve the perception of police in the community, and he’d love to see youth inspired to follow a career path with the RCMP.

By Stewart Burnett, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on May 17, 2023 at 08:42

This item reprinted with permission from   Kivalliq News   Rankin Inlet, Nunavut
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