Wednesday, 25 Nov 2020

‘Listening’ and ‘learning’: Lucki details plan to address systemic racism in RCMP

RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki said she has been “listening” and “learning” and has consulted with various groups in order to address systemic racism within the police force.

“I’ve been consulting with all kinds of groups, including Indigenous leaders such as the former MMIWG commissioner, Marian Buller, the AFN National Chief, Senator Murray Sinclair, the Native Women’s Association of Canada, the Inuit Women’s Association,” Lucki told members of a standing committee on public safety and national security Monday evening.

She said an action plan has been developed to address systemic racism and discrimination within the force.

“The plan has been developed in cooperation with a range of stakeholders that I mentioned,” she said. “We have a total of 17 initiatives that have been under development and are being implemented.”

She said those initiatives include updating the forces de-escalation and crisis intervention training, adding that two task forces have been created.

The first will be looking into a standardized framework for intervention, Lucki explained.

“The second one is in response to calls to mental health or wellness calls,” she said. “And that is, again, to share best practices and to find the best ways to deal with such calls, because they are obviously on the increase.”

According to Lucki, the force is also “looking at making anti-racism training mandatory.”

“But we will be slightly delayed, because we are going to co-develop that anti-racism training with the people that are most impacted by that and getting a lot of input to create that training.”

In the meantime, she said all senior managers have taken “cultural and humility training.”

“It’s rolled out to all employees, and it will be mandatory for each and every employee,” she said.

Lucki said they are also testing body-worn cameras for police in Nunavut and have established an Indigenous Co-Development, Collaboration and Accountability Office at the RCMP.

She said they are also looking at the force’s recruiting process.

“We’re looking at the way in which we recruit, we want to make sure that we are, in fact, reflective of the communities that we serve,” she said.

Overall, Lucki said they are looking at the organization “as a whole.”

“And we’re looking at those systems and those processes, those policies and procedures that will eliminate systemic racism,” she said.

The commissioner’s comments come after the head of the Assembly of First Nations, Chief Perry Bellegarde wrote to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last month, saying he had “lost confidence” in Lucki.

Bellegarde said he was taking this step after months of unrest and many issues relating to the safety of First Nations people across Canada.

He called on Trudeau to replace Lucki with “someone who will focus their attention on public safety and combating racism.”

Bellegarde’s comments came as the RCMP received harsh criticism over it’s alleged inaction regarding  several instances of violence toward a disputed Mi’kmaq moderate livelihood lobster fishery in Nova Scotia.

Following Bellegarde’s remarks, Lucki said she remained “committed” to “fulfilling my mandate of modernizing the RCMP with a strong focus on advancing Indigenous reconciliation.”

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair was also pressed during Monday’s committee meeting about the RCMP’s response in Nova Scotia.

NDP MP Jack Harris asked the minister why there was “no proper RCMP response” despite several warnings about the increasing tensions in the province.

Blair said the police jurisdiction in Nova Scotia is the responsibility of the provincial government.

“Seeing the level of conflict and concern that it was rising there I actually reached out to the Nova Scotia government to discuss with the attorney general about resources required to keep the peace there and to enforce law,” Blair said.

He said the primary responsibility of police on the ground was to “maintain the peace” and “to prevent offences from taking place” and to “conduct investigations and lay charges” when they do occur.

“Jack, that has actually happened,” he said. “The person responsible for assaulting Chief Sacks has now been charged, the person responsible for setting fire to that van has now been charged.”

Blair said officers did not have adequate resources, but added that he is “very confident” that those responsible for the crimes that were committed will be will be held to account.

-With files from The Canadian Press

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