The results remain to be seen, but a process that will begin in January to, hopefully, recruit more Inuit into the ranks of the RCMP is long overdue.
The RCMP have partnered with Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.’s Makigiaqta Inuit Training Corp. to launch the new recruitment program, which will see prospective officers go to Iqaluit to be prepared for the RCMP’s admissions test and the six months they will spend in Regina, Sask., undergoing basic training for the force.
The idea, of course, is to have more Inuit officers patrolling Nunavut communities which, in theory at least, should strengthen the relationship between police officers and the communities they protect.
What makes this attempt much different than those of the past is that the RCMP are willing to bend in a number of areas that will make applying for the force easier, as well as finally realizing the importance of allowing those Inuit officers who prefer not to relocate to spend their policing career in Nunavut.
That should prove itself to be a huge incentive — taking for granted that ‘being open’ to the idea translates into the officer actually being allowed to remain — given how deeply the roots of family, community, culture and love of the land go in the vast majority of all Inuit.
The program is set to begin with a modest 10 recruits, but slow and careful is the way this program should be handled in its infancy, affording each recruit the maximum amount of one-on-one instruction as they advance through their training.
The three requirements the RCMP would not budge on, and rightly so, are possessing a high school diploma, being fluent in English and being able to pass an intense security screening process that will have the RCMP delving deeply, and completely, into a recruit’s past to ensure he or she is suitable police officer material.
The four-month program will be free of cost to recruited candidates, who will also receive a weekly per-diem during their Iqaluit training in addition to their food and board.
While there’s no doubt being able to stay in Nunavut will be enticing to some potential recruits, many Inuit are adverse to conflict and the notion of policing the people you grew-up with – many of whom you’re related to – in a small community is often not that appealing to many folks, Inuit or not.
Still, things will not improve much in the relationship between a number of communities and the RCMP until the day Inuit officers are the rule, not the exception.
Training in cultural sensitivity helps officers a great deal in understanding the community they will be policing, but it’s no substitute for being Inuk; born and raised in Nunavut and understanding the cultural principles that govern life in our territory.
The RCMP and the Makigiaqta Inuit Training Corp. are to be commended for taking this recruitment initiative.
While is does not break down every barrier, it will almost certainly make a career with the RCMP a lot more attractive to Inuit who have been mulling over the idea of policing as their career choice.
Hopefully, those evaluating the training program will realize a 30-to 60-per-cent pass rate during the first two or three recruit intakes makes the program a success — and the bar won’t be set at unreachable heights right from the get-go.
Every RCMP uniform filled-out by an Inuk as a result of this new initiative is a mark of excellence for the program and a step forward for policing in Nunavut.