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The First Nations RCMP Youth Development Program

Elise Stoesser

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      JULY 1993      v22 n06 p04  
First Nations RCMP Youth Development Program

Seated: Supt. J.J. Lemay, F.D. Asapace. A/Commr. L.R. Proke, E. Lerat, J.E. Cameron, C/Supt. F Matchim, G. Murdock, C/Supt. R.K. Leatherdale

First Row: S. Anderson, A.H. Findley, Cpl. LS. Rasz, Insp. M.L. Bergerman, Insp. A.W. Mahon, A M G.F. Oberg, Cpl. G.C. Miller, H. Mahon, Cpl. R. Parlsee, S/M J.T.Y. Mercier - 'F" Div.

Second Row: P. Gardippi, P.G. Opikokew, D.J. Corrigal, H. McLeod, B.R. Sam, T.L Batycld, W.J. Simpson, A.K. Anderson, J.M. Jones, D.R.Taylor, J.J. Moberly, D. Sugai

Third Row: S. McGillvray, P.W. Kowalzlk, B.T.M. Nicholas, C.D. Amundson, J.C. Aubichon, D.C. Beach, E.E. Beck, B.J. Kelly, G.A. Ratkovic, B. Sokwaypnace, E.A. Thomas, C. Couillonneur, A.B.Hink, M.M. Mitchell

The First Nations RCMP Youth Development Program: Pathways helps First Nations Students learn the ropes of police work

Like many university students, Gina Ratkovic has spent her share of summers combining part-time studies with a minimun wage job . This year would likely have brought more of the same, but thanks to an innovative federally funded project, she instead landed a steady job and the chance to see first hand what her chosen career was all about.

A student of the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College at the University of Regina, Gina discovered through on-the-job experience what the RCMP can offer a young woman intent on a career in law enforcement.

Gina's insight into the world of criminal justice was made possible by the First Nations RCMP Youth Development Program, a pilot project spearheaded by the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) and funded by the Government of Canada's "Pathways to Success " iniatiative. The program took 25 aboriginal young people through a crash course in RCMP training, then placed them as "ride-along" assistants at RCMP detachments throughout Western Canada.

During their 12-week postings, while they help with many of the routine duties of law enforcement, they also help build valuable bridges between the police and the native people.

The Fort Qu'Appelle detachment where Gina is spending her summer posting serves three reserves. Her presence as both an aboriginal and female member of the force is a plus for both the RCMP and residents - especially women - of the reserves. For Gina, though, the benefits don't stop there. During the summer she herself is becoming reconnected to aspects of native culture she'd missed out on while living in the city. "I've learned a lot about my heritage. Meeting medicine men and elders has helped me get in touch with my past."

The success of the First Nations program is being hailed as an example of the type of win-win partnerships possibly order Pathways. In this case, the student - most of whom are applicants for the RCMP's regular training program - learned about law enforcement within a native culture. The RCMP detachments gained by a crew of enthusiastic young assistants. And the First Nations was proud to help in developing 25 role models for their own young people.

Tina Eberts is a Pathways program consultant with the new federal department of Human resources and Labour. She gives credit to the FSIN and RCMP for developing a program with such far ranging and long lasting benefits. "This was a very professional endeavour," she explains. "The commitment of the partners was very strong. Everyone who has touched the project has been supportive."

The project came about when leaders of the FSIN approached RCMP officials about expanding and revising an existing program. In recent years, the RCMP had offered a similar program for aboriginal youth, however in-class instruction was limited to one week at the Training Academy located in Regina. Ernie Cameron, Vice-Chief of the FSIN, acknowledged as the driving force behind the change, made the request for an increase in basic training to five weeks. The long-term goal was to get more aboriginal candidates into the regular training program.

The RCMP endorsed improvement to the program. The expanded curriculum would include a strong cultural component. Discussion of kinship systems, the role of elders and the Indian Act would be as integral to the course as administering first aid and handling shotguns. "These additions were a much needed element," says Graham Murdock, director of the program at the FSIN. "Students from urban centres could learn where they came from and re-learn their Indian values".

Once funding for the program was secured, candidates were selected: five from British Columbia, Alberta and Manitoba and 10 from Saskatchewan. On May 3rd they began basic raining in Regina, Five weeks later, at a ceremony marking their graduation, families and friends gathered to honour the recruits before they began

The First Nations Rcmp Youth Development Program

Elise Stoesser

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      JULY 1993      v22 n06 p05  
their summer placements. The ceremony was marked with a deep sense of pride, says Graham Murdock. "We were so impressed with their discipline, confidence and self-esteem. All that we're striving to instill in our youth was so evident in these young people."

With the summer nearly behind them, organizers are now beginning the job of evaluating the project. One likely recommendation is to increase the troop size next year.