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Indigenous Reconciliation Action Plan

In the final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls there are 11 “Calls for Police Services” (recommendations) and 21 related sub categories for Police Services and government bodies to implement. These can be found in the final report under Calls for Police Services Pages 190 - 218, paragraphs 9.1- 9.11.

Building Trust & Credibility with Alberta’s Indigenous People through Cultural Competency

Developing future strategies to build and improve trust between MHPS and the indigenous community of Medicine Hat is an important first step in the journey of reconciliation. Building cultural competency is an integral part of improving trust between MHPS and Medicine Hat’s indigenous community. A consequence of obtaining cultural competency will translate into effective policies that will improve MHPS service delivery when meeting needs of the local indigenous population.

 

Joint Statement - Police Chief & Police Commission Chairperson

We recognize that all First Nations, Inuit, and Métis (Métis) families can raise their children in Medicine Hat with the same safety, security, and human rights that non-Indigenous families living in Medicine Hat do. When providing Police Services to all indigenous persons, we will recognize their distinctions and these distinctions will include self identification, regional specific information and the gendered lens of 2SLGBTQQIA.

Local History

The Medicine Hat area, including South Eastern Alberta, the Cypress Hills, and the South West Saskatchewan area, is rich in indigenous history such as First Nations cultures of the Blackfoot Confederacy, Nakoda/Assiniboine, Cree and Metis.  

Medicine Hat’s Indigenous Population

According to the Stats Canada 2016 census the following makes up the indigenous population residing in Medicine Hat. According to the latest census the overall population is 62,935. Of this general population, the ‘Aboriginal Identity’ population according to the 2016 census is 3,100 citizens.

According to Stats Canada, ‘Aboriginal identity' includes persons who are First Nations (North American Indian), Métis or Inuk (Inuit) and/or those who are registered or Treaty Indians (that is, registered under the Indian Act of Canada) and/or those who have membership in a First Nation or Indian band. Aboriginal peoples of Canada are defined in the Constitution Act, 1982, section 35 (2) as including the Indian, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada.

According to the 2016 census the breakdown of the indigenous population in Medicine Hat is as follows:

First Nations (North American Indian) 1,080       

Métis  1,960   

Inuk (Inuit)   20

Other 40

This action plan recognizes the influences of other indigenous persons who regularly visit, shop or live in Medicine Hat and travel here from other areas around South Eastern Alberta and South West Saskatchewan and who are not included in the enumerated census for the indigenous population of Medicine Hat.

The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls Report (MMIWG)

The MMIWG report provides this action plan with several “Calls to Police Services” that provide a framework for MHPS to follow in the reconciliation journey.  Several of the Calls for Police Services in the MMIWG report are either not applicable to MHPS as they fall to the jurisdiction of the Provincial and/or the Federal Government to action or because MHPS already follows the recommendation as a policing best practice.

Our Commitment to the Calls for Police Services

We will continue to build respectful working relationships with all Indigenous Peoples by creating an enhanced cultural understanding and by recognizing them as community members we serve.

Our Action Plan

Indigenous Advisory Committee

Create a Chief’s Indigenous Advisory Committee and invite indigenous community leaders to meet and consider matters relating to policing services for Indigenous peoples in this community. The Committee will be made up of the Chief of Police, Chair of the Medicine Hat Police Commission, local Indigenous leaders, Métis Elders, as well as other MHPS staff. The committee will meet four times throughout the year, coinciding with the beginning of every new season, to connect and advise the police service on current issues relating to Indigenous and police relations within the community.

Action Item: Invitation has been extened to the Mywasin Centre to initiate discussions and form this committee. 

Status: In Progress

MHPS Policy Review
Review all MHPS policies, practices, and procedures to ensure service delivery that is culturally appropriate meets the needs of Indigenous Peoples.

Action Item: Professional Standards to complete policy review through the lens of inclusiveness and understanding of Indigenous culture, values and norms and to ensure no barriers or implicit biases exist within policies or practices.

Status: In Progress

Action Item: Ensure that a trauma informed approach is recognized and incorporated appropriately into all policies, procedures, and practices when dealing with indigenous persons. Ensure that policy and practices recognize that the impacts of trauma and ensure all necessary steps are taken to create a trauma-informed approach to delivery of services to indigenous persons.

Status: In Progress

Establish a Police Indigenous Liason Officer Position

The MHPS Police Indigenous Liason Officer (PILO) will lead the services’ efforts in community liaison work, community relationship building, and community crime-prevention programs within and for Indigenous people in Medicine Hat in a respectful way.

Action Item: Establish a PILO who will be responsible to identifying and liaising with any local elders and Indigenous organizations.

Status:  Completed - April 2021 with the selection of Cst. Lori Parasynchuk as the MHPS PILO

Indigenous Awareness Training for Officers
The MHPS will undertake education sessions for officers so that we understand and implement culturally appropriate informed practices, especially when dealing with families of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people.

Action Item: The MHPS Training Unit will research and develop a training session(s) to enhance member’s cultural understandings when providing services to indigenous people.

Status: In Progress

Action Item: Conduct policing environmental scan to see what related Indigenous awareness training is available.

Status: In Progress

 
Training for MHPS Cadets

MHPS Cadet training will continue to include anti-bias training and indigenous culture training. All training will be distinctions-based and relevant to the land and local Indigenous people being served.

Action Item: Training Unit to develop Indigenous People and Cultural Awareness training. Review and update to ensure all staff understand and recognize local Indigenous history, culture, and the challenges facing Indigenous persons in contemporary society.

Status: In Progress

Review of Outstanding MMIWG Investigations
Action Items: The MHPS Major Crimes Section (MCS) will review all RMS Police records for any outstanding investigations pertaining to all unresolved files of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people from the Medicine Hat jurisdiction. These files will be reviewed and if necessary reinvestigated. All non sensitive information will be disclosed and provided to the families.
 
Status: Complete - As of May 10, 2021 MCS reviewed all files of missing persons in Medicine Hat as far back as our records allow and found that there were no unresolved cases requiring further invesigation. 
 
Incorporation of Indigenous Culture
Ancillary cultural indigenous initiatives will include the exploration of the Eagle feather Oath option and the Indigenous land acknowledgement at the commencement of MHPS events.

Action Item: Administrative Services to develop policy to allow indigenous persons to use a sacred Eagle feather. The Eagle Feather is to be offered as an option for providing an oath swearing by a traditional Indigenous form of conscience binding. This will be offered in addition to the swearing on a religious text or making a non-religious affirmation.

Status: In Progress

Action Item: MHPS Administrative Services to develop a policy or practice to include local Indigenous land acknowledgment for all community boardroom meetings held by outside agencies and with outside agencies.

Status: In Progress

 

Way Forward

This action plan is a way forward that provides some initial concrete steps in recognizing the complexity of intergenerational trauma suffered by Indigenous Peoples and represents a commitment by MHPS and MHPC to work towards maintaining a mutual understanding and respect in the context of providing quality Police Services to all citizens of Medicine Hat.

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References:

  1. Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

Census Profile, 2016 Census Medicine Hat Population. https://www12.statcan.gc.ca/