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Regina - Eight Indians recently started training as Special Constables with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police by an agreement concluded by the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians with the federal and provincial governments.
These recruits were screened and selected by the regular channels of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Personnel. A nine-week training program of basic skills will be taught and then each recruit will be posted in detachments surrounding Indian reserves. They will have the same law enforcement as regular members of the force with one exception. The red tunic associated with the force will not be issued to these recruits.
At the opening ceremonies, Mr. Warren Allmand, Solicitor General of Canada, stated that this policy in Indian Policing would become a national program. This program came into being to answer the needs of the indian people. Mr. Roy Romanow, Attorney - General of Saskatchewan, was glad to have Saskatchewan as the first province in Canada to assist in such a program.
Mr. Dave Ahenakew, Chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians, said "we are witnessing the creation of a unique new part of the force in the form of the Indian Special Constable troop. When we first realized the need for more and better policing on our reserves, we saw that there was much our own people could be doing. Our problems on the reserve have too often reached crisis proportions before the law is able to step in, and few preventative measures have even been tried."
Chief Ahenakew said the special constables must be encouraged and assisted by everyone to develop approaches to the reserve communities which are consistent not only with good police philosophy, but as well with the right and. responsibility of bands and their councils to govern themselves well. We believe the special constable program is a very positive first step in taking the initiative to improve the quality of life in our reserves in terms of law enforcement.
Discussion for a program similiar to this one began as early as 1971, when a federal provincial study group recommended that Indian constables would provide a "bridge" between Indians and regular constables.
When the special Indian constables complete their training they should be able to provide better contact between reserve communities near their detachments and provide a greater awareness among regular constables of the problems facing reserve residents.
Before this program began, there was only one or two Treaty Indians in the province working as RCMP constables.
Although women were eligible for this program, none were chosen for the first session.
The Indian constables will get nine weeks of training, compared to six months for an ordinary recruit, but their duties will be exactly the same as the regular constables.
The first candidates are: (language spoken and detachment in brackets):
Jack McLean, 23, of Kinistino. (Cree, going to Punnichy).
Brian C. Bellegarde 19, of Balcarres (English, Balcarres).
Greg Nooclchoos, 30, of Dillion (Chipewayan, Buffalo Narrows).
Floyd W: Pooyak, 27, North Battleford (Cree, North Battleford).
Archie Kayseas, 28, of Kylemore (Saulteaux, Kamsack).
Dennis A. Gamble, 20, of Rosthern (Cree, Meadow Lake).
Raymond G. Sanderson, 32, of Saskatoon (Cree, to Shellbrook or Pelican Narrows).
Douglas Moisomin, 26, of Cando (Cree and Stony, to Big River).
The detachments chosen for them have either a large reserve population nearby, or have large urban Indian populations as well as nearby reserves.
Some efforts were made when screening potential candidates to match the language and cultural background of the individuals to the cultures of the people near detachments where they will work.
Chief Ahenakew said he hopes the need for the special program will disappear in time as communities become more self-reliant and regular police work can deal with their problems.
This program will train a total of 32 Indians over a four year span. The next training program will begin in March. Saskatchewan is the first province to offer this opportunity.