Indigenous services minister stands by criticism of Kinngait RCMP incident

“It continues to erode the already thin trust that exists between communities and forces that are designed to serve and protect them”

Marc Miller, the Indigenous services minister, says he stands by comments he made about an incident this summer, when an Inuk man in Kinnagait was hit by the door of a moving RCMP truck in June. Earlier this year, he called it a degrading and dehumanizing act. (CPAC screenshot)

By Mélanie Ritchot

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is not shying away from criticism he levelled at an Ottawa Police Service decision this week to clear an RCMP officer accused of assaulting an Inuk man with his truck.

This screenshot from a video posted by a Kinngait resident on Facebook shows the moment when a man is knocked to the ground with the open door of an RCMP truck. (Screenshot from Facebook)

“I saw what I saw,” he said during a news conference on Wednesday, Dec. 2, referring to a video that went viral on social media showing the June 1 incident.

In the video, an RCMP officer based in Kinngait appears to use the door of his moving RCMP vehicle to push a man to the ground from behind. The man is then swarmed by four officers.

In an interview with Nunatsiaq News, Miller reiterated comments he made earlier in the year that he feels what that officer did was a “degrading and dehumanizing act.”

“It continues to erode the already thin trust that exists between communities and forces that are designed to serve and protect them,” he said.

“I don’t hesitate to speak publicly on these issues, these are things that Canadians care about.”

The Ottawa Police Service acts as a third-party investigator in major incidents that involve the RCMP in Nunavut. It released a review of the incident on Dec. 1, concluding it was accidental.

OPS said that as the truck came to a sliding stop, the tilt of the vehicle caused the driver’s door to swing out and strike the man.

Investigators interviewed 14 witnesses, including other officers who were on scene, and looked at other evidence such as the video and the vehicle involved.

Miller said he views the incident as an example of systemic racism within the force, and evidence of the need for police reform.

“You have to attack it in a different way than you would in a one-off event,” he said. “You need to do more than policy whack-a-mole and really attack the entire system.”

He referenced the throne speech from the fall, when the Liberal government promised to reform the RCMP and address inequalities within Canada’s criminal justice system.

The government has promised to modernize police training and address the current standards around the use of force. The government has also expressed a desire to shift towards community-led policing.

Canada’s Indigenous people have “a legitimate skepticism” about Canada’s health-care system, Miller says

As the country moves through the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Miller also took the time to talk about how some Indigenous people “have a legitimate skepticism” about the Canadian health-care system, which has historically under-served Indigenous communities.

He said mending that relationship is critical right now, “as we try to deploy a vaccine in record time so that we keep people safe.”

“My role is to ensure Indigenous peoples are served,” he said.

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(15) Comments:

  1. Posted by What? on

    “Miller said he views the incident as an example of systemic racism within the force, and evidence of the need for police reform.” Please explain how this incident is an example of systemic racism.

    • Posted by Consistency on

      I am not sure i buy that this isnt systemic racism. however the RCMP (and probably most law enforcement) are trained to over come the subject. So the cop that is driving and “accidently” opens the truck door while moving (are they trained and instructed to get out of a moving vehicle) and it knocks over a n intoxicated person(there was never any indication that this person was fleeing a violent crime or was a risk to anyone at the time). What is the first response, is it to ensure they are alright and ok (this is my reaction when i accidently hurt someone) or have 4 cops continue to jump the person and hold them to the ground.
      I understand that Nunavut is not often the chosen deployment for RCMP officers, but they have to do their time. So when an incident like this happens they are sent back south. I am curious what the career paths of officers that dont complete their Nunavut time do, do they get promoted or the deployment of their choosing? or is it a negative to not complete the full deployment?

  2. Posted by Forever Amazed on

    I agree with Posted by What? So, yes, please explain why this is an example of systemic racism?

    Also I would like the minister to explain why access to potable water is not systemic racism?

  3. Posted by Gordon Kukkuvak on

    where is the U.N. regulations that was just announce by Liberal Government yet they still continue to ignore it what they just announce? what is wrong with the picture here?

  4. Posted by No Moniker on

    The moral panic over racism, and more broadly “systemic racism” in western society has reached a fever pitch today. A bit like dark matter it fills the terrestrial aether, penetrating and animating every interaction and relationship between humans, it is the explanandum through which each inequity and injustice can be explained. This is our default position today. But is it true?
    Given this new orthodoxy it’s not terribly surprising the Minister is comfortable calling for a complete overhaul of the policing system based on an incident like this. It is, after all, obvious evidence of the new ‘dark matter’. Is it really, though?
    The problem is this incident, even if an act of wrong doing by the officer (which I lean toward), is not necessarily evidence of racism.
    Most police officers in Nunavut are not Inuit, every interaction between those officers and Inuit brings the possibility of conflict, and some will lead to unintended and even unjust outcomes. On the whole, the latter incidents are thankfully few. Poor officer conduct happens. It’s never acceptable and needs to be properly addressed. Still, it happens because the officers are human, and like the rest of us can make decisions driven by emotion or impulse depending on all sorts of situational factors which include their own internal states, moods, etc… to reflexively call each incident where an officer acts outside the bounds of proper conduct racism, and even more damning, evidence of systemic racism, is a bit reckless in my opinion. It also demands some kind of reasonable evidence.
    In the current climate it is easy to reflexively attribute an incident like this, and countless others in our daily lives, to racist systems. In my opinion this is dangerous, and a mistake. It’s also increasingly easy to do as the idea captivates our public discourse. So, let’s turn down the heat a bit and consider the complexities involved in a situation like this.
    I also want to say in anticipation of expected criticism that none of what I am saying above is a denial of racism, or of systems of racism where they might exist. It is a simply caution; if we decide to see racism everywhere, we will miss the places where it truly thrives and risk incalculable damage in places where it doesn’t.

  5. Posted by Will say anything on

    Throwing around ‘systematic discrimination’ without any elaboration or support. Are you saying an outcome other than guilt is systematic discrimination?
    This is the Liberals saying whatever they can to tap into any support pending a federal election, including making baseless istatements that somehow an independent third party investigation, sanctioned and paid for by taxpayers and the government of Nunavut, is somehow illegitimate. I can’t take ministers like Miller seriously when they can’t assess something impartially and so I can’t expect him or the Trudeau cabinet to fix legitimate issues impacting inuit.

    • Posted by Goes with the flow on

      I agree. If we had people in positions of power who thought things through before they talked or reacted we would have a better functioning government. Instead we have people like this minister who react on emotion and in accord with the spirit of the times; racism is ‘everywhere and in every interaction between police and minorities.’ I imagine he felt that his comments were what were expected of him, given his roll also.

  6. Posted by I show you racism on

    The misery in many Inuit communities with alcohol use is incredible to say the least , and be nice about what you say. The destruction of limb and life. Destroyed families. Abused children. Most statistics would show incredible numbers beyond anything seen else where in this country. The little children that are suffering, with no refuge. For a government to allow that to continue to take place day in day out is beyond anything I can think of. In my view! That’s racism in its most destructive form.

    • Posted by Discussion is worthless on

      Yes, this discussion about Police and the intoxicated is worth nothing on the end of the day. It’s literally hot air release for the sake of nothing said or done that counts in the life of Inuit. Like who cares, known that it’s only a drunken person being discuss . It’s like a joke, only one hurt is the drunk. If only the discussion was to turn to the real issue of what alcohol is doing to Inuit then, that’s a real discussion. Considering the numbers affected and hurt by the intoxicated. It seems, not many will go into that discussion, at least not into a solution. Not many are willing to admit that too many Inuit can’t handle alcohol, and it’s almost got them destroyed.

    • Posted by Fox in Socks on

      These are really sad issues I agree, but I don’t think racism is the silver bullet that explains them or that resolving racism will resolve economic inequality or disparities in economic development. I don’t see how that might solve the social problems you’ve listed either.
      Could you explain?

      • Posted by Racism or just alcohol abuse on

        It’s not rocket science to see that most Inuit communities that are struggling with alcohol, are struggling hundreds of times per capital than anywhere else in the country , or on the planet. It so horrific that in a real non denial more civilized way of legislation, the booze would most ultimately be outlawed due to the misery and early death to the population. Why would a more educated, civilized world allow this to happen? Alcohol is destroying Inuit in horrific numbers. It’s not just alcoholism as seem in medical literature described as diagnosis to the heart and soul of that illness, it’s beyond alcoholism as by that definition. It’s more like a fire or smoke inhalation that needs to be put out and dealt with because we care about the people suffering even if the people themselves are denying that they’re victims, we can at least speak up for those that can’t do it for themselves, like the kids and abused family. No, nothing is done to outlaw this substance from Inuit communities, because in the name of treatment of equality among people,! Political correctness, like we all are equal. That’s not true we are not all equal. We are all human, but some people among us are more prone to misery and death, if certain exposers are there. Many Inuit are not metabolizing alcohol well in their system. If we know that, as by all the evidence as we see every day 24/7, then it’s up to the government, under service of medical professionals to declare this issue a crisis, and to do otherwise is part of not giving a 2 cents worth of care, and it’s a form of neglect and racism. Allowing people to keep using a substance that’s killing them in such horrific numbers . Alcohol is a poisonous substance, and enjoy , tolerated, and otherwise killing all over the globe! But in the north is war like destruction.

        • Posted by Communities decide on

          It’s not accurate to say nothing is done to outlaw alcohol, because in many communities it is outlawed. Look at Arviat’s most recent rejection of changes to it’s status regarding the drink. In the end the power i in the hands of each community, no one else.

          • Posted by Community power and death on

            Yes, one community, that’s an example, but what about the whole of the northern region, in all inuit communities, the death the destruction. If it’s in the hands of each community, that’s the point, it’s the government of that community that is literally destroying the people by allowing it to continue. Just watch for some news today, this week , this month, this year. Watch and see over and over, a small population destroying. Itself. Over and over and over. But oh yes they have the right to do that, and to put pain and misery on their families, their kids, their community, because they have a right to drink alcohol, and a right to no be able to handle it.

            • Posted by The point is on

              The point is, all communities have the ability to chose how much alcohol is or is not allowed in, not just Arviat obviously. Knowing this, I’m not sure how you can attribute their decisions on that question to racism.

  7. Posted by Sick policing on

    How do you watch a clear video tape with a guy who can’t even stay up get rammed and say it’s ok? The reputation of the police ain’t going to improve at this point in the eyes of the majority up here. We need a good thorough review of policing and why we get stuck with buffoons who don’t even know how to drive a vehicle safely.

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