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Scarlet Tunic For Indians; Begin Mountie Training

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      OCTOBER 1974      v05 n08 p04  
Regina - Eight Indians will begin training as Special Constable with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Oct. 1, as a result of an agreement recently concluded by the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian with the federal and provincial governments.

The Indian special constables will be trained specifically to work with reserves in the province, and the will have the same law enforcement powers as regular members of the Mounties.

Final agreement was reached recently at a meeting in Ottawa between members of the F.S.I. executive, the Solicitor-General and the provincial Attorney-General's department. The program is a three-year pilot project for Saskatchewan and will be funded by both levels of government.

Representatives of the F.S.I. will be involved in the selection of recruits for the program, and according to Chief David Ahenakew, "we'll be trying for the cream of the crop, young Indians, well educated and with good backgrounds."

As well as regular Mountie training, the recruits will also be given instruction in such areas as Indian psychology, culture and history. Courses developed by the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural College will be used and several of the province's chiefs and elders will be invited to participate in the training, Chief Ahenakew said.

Both governments have also agreed the band councils on reserves will be thoroughly involved in the program, Chief Ahenakew said.

"The band council is going to become involved on a routine, continuing basis. If the band council is not going to co-operate and contribute as to how the policing should be conducted on reserves, then there is no sense placing a special constable there, because his job is going to be impossible. It will be the job of both the special constable and the band councils to improve attitudes towards policing, since it is the bad attitudes by both police and Indians that are the basis of our problems of lawlessness."

Chief Dave
Ahenakew
Chief Dave Ahenakew

"Our position was even another 1,000 policemen would not resolve the, problem unless the relationship between Indians and police could develop positively, and the ministers agreed with us," Chief Ahenakew said.

The special constable program will replace all other policing programs for reserves in the province, including the Reserve Constable program, the Chief said. Although special RCMP constables were proposed three years ago, the program was delayed by negotiations between the federal and provincial governments and several reserves in the North Battleford area introduced reserve constables to their reserves.

"I understand these reserve police are doing a heck of a good job and perhaps some arrangements will be made to incorporate them into the special constable program or give them further training," Chief Ahenakew said.

Both special constable and reserve police programs were studied, Chief Ahenakew said, but the reserve police concept was rejected at a chiefs conference three years ago, because "reserve constables are appointed by the band councils which are likely to change every year. The leadership is not consistent."

"Another thing is if the reserve police really apply themselves they may step on the toes of the council's friends or even the councillors themselves and the result would be chaos. A reserve policeman also has no authority. They have to turn to the RCMP to apply the law, whereas the special constable has all the police powers a regular RCMP member has."

The ultimate size of the special constable force is expected to be 32 members. Another eight Indians will begin training as special constables next March.