Iqaluit city council unanimously supports call for RCMP body cameras in Nunavut

“I think it’s really important to take this step forward”

On Tuesday, June 9, Iqaluit city councillors became the latest Nunavut public figures calling for the RCMP to be equipped with body-worn cameras. (File photo)

By Dustin Patar

Iqaluit city councillors are calling for the Nunavut RCMP to use body cameras in the capital and across the territory.

The unanimous vote in support of the use of the cameras, which took place during the regularly scheduled council meeting on Tuesday, June 9, is just the latest addition to a growing list of organizations and government officials calling for the same.

“I think it’s really important to take this step forward,” said Deputy Mayor Janet Brewster.

Last Tuesday Mayor Kenny Bell announced his support for the cameras, saying “It is about the safety of everyone involved.”

The same morning, a video surfaced on social media that showed a Kinngait RCMP officer knocking down an Inuk man with a vehicle door.

While Bell indicated that his announcement was prepared before the video, the incident made national news at a time when widespread protests against police brutality had begun in the United States and spread to Canada, further prompting the question of whether RCMP officers should wear body cameras.

On Monday, June 8, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki.

“One of the things we discussed was the adoption of body cameras. I’m committing to raising this with the provinces this week, so we can move forward as quickly as possible,” said Trudeau.

“It is something that is, in my opinion, what we need to move forward with.”

Later that day the RCMP also released a statement in support of the cameras. “The commissioner agrees it is critically important for Canadians to feel protected by the police and is committed to take whatever steps are required to enhance trust between the RCMP and the communities we serve,” the statement said.

“The commissioner has confirmed that the RCMP will engage in work and discussion with policing partners and the NPF [the RCMP union] on a broader rollout of body-worn cameras.”

While all of this preceded the councillors’ vote on Tuesday, many took the opportunity to talk about how body-worn cameras are only a part of the solution.

“I also want to make it really clear that that there is an incredible amount of work that needs to be done to address the violent acts that are being committed towards Inuit by RCMP members,” said Brewster.

Since the beginning of this year, there have been five incidents in Nunavut where the Ottawa Police Service was called in to investigate, not including last week’s Kinngait incident with the RCMP vehicle.

Three of those incidents were police-involved shootings: first in Kinngait in February, then in Apex in April and Clyde River in May.

Two were fatal.

In response, the Government of Nunavut announced that they are planning a new oversight body for police-involved incidents.

Coun. Kyle Sheppard also weighed in on the body-worn cameras, adding, “I just want to note that there’s very little evidence that body cameras reduce incidents of police misconduct or other treatment.”

“I support this because it can lead to accountability at least.”

But Sheppard, like Brewster, acknowledged that there are a lot of other issues in the territory that the cameras won’t directly influence.

“I know there’s been many calls for many things across the board, including defunding of the RCMP, which, at some point, I could definitely agree with,” said Bell.

“But at this point in time, when we’re already … not funded properly, I think that we need to start to build some trust back with the community.”

The next city council meeting is on June 23.

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(2) Comments:

  1. Posted by Jeff on

    Great leadership,now both parties will be protected,and hopefully this will stop this me against you.

  2. Posted by The Native on

    If we agree that the RCMP have body cameras then we put them on all public service employees. You know so that every can criticize every movement the make. Would you want to wear a camera at you job and have it publicly accessible. How about just the city council lets put one on every member and them we can all see what you talk about behind closed doors and in smoking areas. You know since the council has just more power to messing things up as a member of the RCMP.

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