Nunavut RCMP commander reflects on ‘challenging’ history

Iqaluit detachment holds public gathering Tuesday as police mark 150 years

Chief Supt. Andrew Blackadar, Nunavut RCMP’s commanding officer, says the national police service has faced challenges over its 150-year history. He spoke to reporters at an event at the Iqaluit detachment Tuesday afternoon to mark the RCMP’s 150th anniversary. (Photo by Jeff Pelletier)

By Jeff Pelletier - Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Nunavut RCMP’s commanding officer reflected on the service’s complicated history in the territory Tuesday as the national police force marked its 150th anniversary.

Chief Supt. Andrew Blackadar said he’s looking toward a future in which the Nunavut RCMP includes more Inuit recruits across the communities.

RCMP detachments across Canada marked the 150th anniversary with all sorts of events. The Iqaluit detachment opened its doors for a small community gathering where Blackadar took questions from reporters.

The RCMP’s history in Nunavut, and before that when it was still part of the Northwest Territories, dates back seven decades.

RCMP staff gathered at the Iqaluit detachment to celebrate the force’s 150th anniversary on Tuesday. (Photo by Jeff Pelletier)

Blackadar acknowledged that, in that time, officers have played a role in what are now considered infamous historical incidents, such as dog slaughters and forceful relocations of Inuit in the territory.

“We’ve had challenging times in Nunavut, there’s no doubt about it,” he said.

“The RCMP were involved, and I think that’s something that we have to work with in terms of reconciliation in the territory, and we have to make right with the people.”

Blackadar was not the only RCMP member to speak about “challenging times.”

Canada’s top Mountie, Commissioner Mike Duheme, said in a statement “the RCMP has played a role in some of Canada’s most difficult and dark moments.”

Also in a statement, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the RCMP “will continue to support healing and reconciliation, as it continues to keep our communities safe now and into the future.”

Meanwhile, Gov. Gen. Mary Simon said she joins Canadians in expressing her “deepest appreciation to RCMP across the country.”

The RCMP considers May 23, 1873, to be its start date.

On that day, the service was established under the name North-West Mounted Police following an act in Parliament. In 1920, it was renamed the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

While reflecting on the past, Blackadar said the future of the RCMP in Nunavut involves working with communities and following an Inuit advisory board’s lead to increase Inuit recruitment.

Currently, only about seven of approximately 150 RCMP regular members in Nunavut are Inuit, he said.

That number does not account for the civilian side, more than half of whom are Inuit.

He said the RCMP is working to make recruitment easier in communities where there might be technological barriers.

He said representatives are going to places such as Arctic College and conferences to promote recruitment, and are beginning to send potential officers to the RCMP’s Saskatchewan academy, also called the Depot.

“I want to see the community and the RCMP working together towards reconciliation,” Blackadar said.

“I want to see us recruiting more Inuit to different ranks, the regular member ranks, but also to our civilian side … to our public service side so that we can have more Inuit involvement in, in the RCMP.”

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(10) Comments:

  1. Posted by Oh? on

    “Chief Supt. Andrew Blackadar said he’s looking toward a future in which the Nunavut RCMP includes more Inuit recruits across the communities.”

    What about the 20 or so inuit that were paid to go do some sort of rcmp training? Are any of them cops yet?

  2. Posted by Go figure!! on

    Yes I agree with the last post!!, I don’t miss the RCMP at all, I’m not going to lie but you felt a sense of tension on a day to day basis and I’m glad to be out of that department

  3. Posted by Hunter on

    Racist Colonial Malediction Police (RCMP) still don’t admit they they kidnapped ten’s of thousands of indigenous children and shipped them off to be cleansed of their language and culture.

    The social issues we still facing today are a direct result of the RCMP doing this. What do you expect when you kidnap children from their loving parents and expose them to all kinds of torture and abuse and then ship them back home to make more babies.

    Parenting skills and knowledge was lost, the residential schools taught these kids pain and suffering who turned to alcohol and drug abuse as adults to cop with the traumatic experiences they were forced to endure.

    The RCMP was the tip of the spear in the genocidal policies of the government.

    There is no statute of limitations for the majority of these crimes committed by RCMP members against indigenous peoples.

    No justice for all those babies babies and children that were murdered during residential school.

    RCMP is celebrating 150 years and still counting of systematic racism against indigenous peoples of Canada.

    How can RCMP members hold their head up and be proud of their institution that has committed more hate crimes against indigenous people in Canada in History?

    The Justice system shames indigenous peoples today for the crimes they commit, RCMP as an institution should also be shamed.

  4. Posted by Honor RCMP on

    RCMP should hold their heads up very very high. They are revered by many and should be highly regarded. Their duties can be very challenging and therefore takes a special person to become an RCMP officer. As stated in recent articles, money made the job better, however, I would rather interact with someone who was proud to become a Member and dedicated to serve. Keep up the wonderful work you do. When I see red serge my eyes fill with tears of pride and makes me proud to be Canadian.

    • Posted by Hunter on

      RCMP Requirements
      1. Be a Canadian citizen or have permanent resident status in Canada. Individuals with permanent resident status must have resided (been physically present) in Canada for 3 (1,095 days) out of the last 5 years as a permanent resident.
      2. Be at least 18 years of age to apply
      3. Be proficient in English and/or French
      4. Possess a valid, unrestricted driver’s licence
      5. Possess a Canadian secondary school (high school) diploma or equivalent
      6. Meet the health and psychological standards
      7. Meet the vision standards
      8.Meet the hearing standards
      9. Meet the necessary level of physical abilities
      10. Be prepared and able to carry a firearm and to use it or any other necessary physical force
      11. Be willing to spend 26 weeks at the RCMP’s training academy (Depot) in Regina, Saskatchewan
      12. Be willing to relocate anywhere within Canada
      13. Be willing to work shift work including weekends and holidays
      14.Be aware of requirements for tattoos, jewelry and other personal effects

      Nothing out of the ordinary or special in the RCMP recruiting requirements . Heck does not even require post secondary education. Anyone who goes to university or collage is over qualified. RCMP are scrapping the bottom of the employment pool in Canada and that is why they have so many members that violate peoples rights guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

      Arviat, Kinggait, Coral and a few other communities you can see RCMP members violating people’s rights by searching luggage when people arrive in the community for alcohol. This is unlawful search and seizure. If the RCMP don’t adhere to the laws they are sworn to uphold they are tyrants and abusing. If the rest of the members allow a few members to continually violating people’s rights even though they did not commit the violation are just as bad by not upholding the law. If they don’t remove the bad/rotting apples all the apples end up becoming bad and rotting.

      • Posted by Jamisie on

        When stuff happens, people like you tend to blame the RCMP for doing nothing. When the RCMP are pro-active and receive information someone is bringing alcohol to a community and they do an inspection, then people like you say the RCMP is doing too much and violating peoples rights.
        The RCMP are working in the best interest of the community, when bad stuff happens in a community like, a man beating their wife, a child is being molested, or someone is threating to shoot and kill, people call on the police for help and it’s the police that risk their lives to help ignorant people like you.
        If the RCMP is soo bad, why don’t you find a way to fix society so there isn’t a need for the RCMP.

        • Posted by Hunter on

          RCMP will get the blame until the stop their two tier justice system. did you know 30% of people incarcerated in Canada are indigenous while indigenous people only represent 5% of Canada’s total population? This is a very alarming stat.

          Me fix society so we do not need RCMP? Here would be some of the things I would do if I could wave a magic wand.

          1. Total alcohol ban in all our communities becuase 95% of all the calls RCMP members respond to are alcohol related.

          2. Spend lots of money on mental health and addictions by hiring community counsellors and addiction counsellors for every community.

          3. Set up Healthy parenting classes, not only for women but for men too. Men are parents too.

          4. I would have a couple of professional counsellors in all schools to help teach kids how to healthily deal with their emotions and feeling elementary, middle and high schools

          5. Set up local support groups for men women teenagers, elders where they meet and support each other.

          6. Set up financial courses in high school so when kids graduate they know how to manage their personal finances when they grow into adults.

          7. Train any community member interested in mental health counselling/addiction counselling, community counselling to build the capacity in our community’s to identify early warning signs of people that may become suicidal.

          LOL proactive? If the RCMP was going based off of tips they would be able to get legal search warrants. The RCMP are searching everyone’s bags except “white” peoples who speak up for their rights.

  5. Posted by Bert Rose on

    “The RCMP’s history in Nunavut, and before that when it was still part of the Northwest Territories, dates back seven decades.”
    Lets see. A decarde is ten years. That does not match the history of the RCMP in Nunavut by about four or more decades.

  6. Posted by Tulugaq on

    To say that the RCMP is facing challenges is an understatement! Reports after reports show that the federal colonial police force needs a complete overhaul, not only tinkering. There are reasons the RCMP is not attractive to Inuit, in particular because of its para-military culture that is often counterproductive and instead of defusing tension, they tend to increase it.

    Its history is far too colonial to think that revamping it would suffice. Remember the Inuit Alikomiak and Tatamigana that were arrested and after a parody of trial where the court party brought the gallows and the executioner with them to Hershel Island, YT, before the trial was even held, were executed in February 1924. It was a mandate by the federal government to “teach” the Inuit that they had to obey the “White man’s law”.

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