Special constables may make comeback

GN, RCMP play nice, sign big document


Nunavut’s Department of Justice and the RCMP signed a wide-ranging document late last month that’s intended to tackle the territory’s myriad social problems.

Dubbed a “shared directional statement,” the agreement enlists the Mounties to help reduce suicides, family violence and substance abuse, while boosting the number of Inuit who serve with the police force over the next two years.

“It gives us guiding principles of what we’re going to do over the next couple of years,” said Marty Cheliak, chief superintendent of the RCMP’s V Division.

But the statement, signed at a ceremony at the Iqaluit Visitors Centre June 17, doesn’t lay out any new funding for programs, nor does it commit to boosting police numbers in smaller communities where detachments are staffed with two officers.

And there’s no clear agenda contained in the document. Mounties “shall build and foster relationships and partnerships” with community groups and government, but don’t say how.

The RCMP is already a member of the GN’s suicide prevention committee and already administers anti-drug programs for youth.

And in the statement the RCMP pledges to investigate “all incidents of family violence,” which might strike onlookers as something the force is supposed to be doing already.

On the day the RCMP promoted their first Inuk sergeant, Jimmy Akavak, Okalik and Cheliak spoke of their desire to see more Inuit enrolled as Mounties.

“We have young cadets from 18 communities,” Okalik said, adding he hopes to see them become full-fledged Mounties someday. “The progress may be too slow for some, but I think it’s progress nonetheless.

Okalik also said he wants to see the return of the special constable program, which was phased out in the 1990s, which he said is a way to boost law enforcement numbers in Nunavut communities that’s less expensive for the territorial government than hiring more full-fledged RCMP officers.

The GN is lobbying the federal government to restore the program, Okalik said.

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