One of 21 Inuit in RCMP training program has applied to join the force

There are several barriers to becoming an officer in Nunavut, says RCMP corporal

The Nunavut RCMP has one applicant from the 21 Inuit who went through the force’s training program in 2020 and 2021. (File photo)

By Emma Tranter

A training program aimed at recruiting Inuit to the RCMP has seen one of the 21 people who went through that program apply to the force, according to Nunavut’s justice minister Craig Simailak.

He told the legislative assembly’s committee of the whole on June 9 that the Nunavut RCMP has one Inuk “at the security and suitability stage” of the application process.

The four-month program, called the Assisted Application Training Program, was done in partnership with the Department of Family Services and Makigiaqta Inuit Training Corp. through Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.

The program was designed to prepare Inuit to take the RCMP’s entrance exam, a requirement to enter the force’s six-month training academy in southern Canada.

It saw two groups of Nunavut Inuit: one in Iqaluit in 2020 and another in Rankin Inlet in 2021.

There were seven applicants in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic created some challenges for this group — they were sent back to their home communities to continue their training remotely when the territory locked down.

While six out of seven passed the RCMP’s entrance exam, all except one ended up withdrawing from the application process or were asked to leave “due to various issues, including failure to comply,” Simailak said.

In 2021, 14 participants from Coral Harbour, Rankin Inlet, Arviat, Chesterfield Inlet, Kugaaruk, Baker Lake, and Sanikiluaq trained in Rankin Inlet.

Of those 14, 10 successfully passed the RCMP’s entrance exam, but eight withdrew “for personal reasons,” Simailak said.

Of the remaining two, one is training to become a dispatcher, and the other has started in an administrative role, according to Cpl. George Henrie, who leads the Nunavut RCMP’s recruiting unit.

Henrie, who is one of the Nunavut RCMP’s five Inuit members, said there are “huge barriers” for people across the territory who want to apply to the force.

The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the RCMP to move most of its application process, including its entrance exam, online.

“The biggest barrier is lack of internet,” Henrie said in an interview. 

“A lot of people don’t have computers at home anymore, just have cellphones. But the application process, including the exam, has to be done on a computer with a secure internet connection.”

RCMP applicants also need a first aid and CPR certification and an unrestricted driver’s licence.

“That’s very hard to do in a small Nunavut community, especially when you don’t have a full-time motor vehicles examiner,” he said.

In the past, Henrie said he has lent his personal truck to applicants in Iqaluit so they can take their driving exam.

Another issue is that the exam is not available in Inuktitut. This creates a further barrier for applicants who are unilingual or speak Inuktitut as their first language.

“It is a really long, tedious process,” Henrie said. “We’re also competing with other agencies in Nunavut that offer high salaries, the mines, the GN, the municipalities.”

Henrie said the RCMP is currently looking to apply for funding to launch a third year of the training program.

As well, two applicants from 2021 are heading down to the police academy at the end of the month for an Indigenous training academy.

“There is still some interest, so we’re still waiting patiently to see if they want to pursue a career in the RCMP,” he said.

Jessica Young, Nunavut’s assistant deputy minister of public safety, also told the committee that the RCMP and the department are discussing “the potential to look at special constable programs that had existed before” and options for community safety officers.

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(11) Comments:

  1. Posted by Sam on

    We have a basic program it’s called bylaw officers, but the training stopped 20 years ago, let’s do another study and task force, these Inuit provided a good eyes and ears in the community. Local knowledge and helped the transient RCMP,

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  2. Posted by Give me a break on

    The argument that lack of internet, First Aid training and driver’s licenses are serious barriers to completing this training does not strike me as compelling. In fact the use of these excuses strikes me as juvenile and embarrassing. Come on…

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    • Posted by Joanasie on

      you should try and apply into the RCMP in a town outside Iqaluit and see if your internet works and if you can get non-restricted drivers licence and CPR course… most people who don’t live in the small towns never understand

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      • Posted by Keith on

        Even if your internet works, the inability to take a driver’s test is a major difficulty. Ask anyone from Cambridge Bay.

        As for First Aid courses, that is something that’s needed even outside of RCMP applicants.

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    • Posted by Inujunga on

      And lack of driving course. No vehicle available to learn how to drive.

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  3. Posted by Bert on

    It’s unfortunate that so few people are following through on their training. To pretend that internet is a serious reason why is neither serious nor believable.

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  4. Posted by This is getting ugly on

    Give those southerners that come here some credit. If you notice something… no Inuk wants to work as an RCMP, nurse, teacher, or cab driver even. Dealing with the public is not a fun time. There’s much aggression, alcoholism, mental instability, etc. Compare the amount of people you see seeking these jobs compared to the amount of people squirrelled away in GN cubicles.

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  5. Posted by Oh? on

    The biggest barier to inuit working for the rcmp is the GN. Why would anyone want a serious job with responsibilities and accountability when instead they can make more money doing next to nothing at the GN?

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  6. Posted by Ragin Ronnie on

    Apparently one of the biggest barriers is being motivated.

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  7. Posted by Greg on

    From my experience in the north, it’s also hard for Inuit to leave their home communities for the time it takes to complete the training at Depot in Regina. For some, that may be the furthest they’ve been in their lives. I hope the program continues in the future, and sees increased success.

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  8. Posted by Name Withheld on

    I agree that this 6 months training can become difficult for some Inuit. Not sure why it hasn’t been put to table for inuit to take the same amount of training in Iqaluit. I’m sure it has to do with needed physical training it requires but come on. You want these inuit to become members in Nunavut. Let’s see if a pilot project can be delivered with partnership between the GN and the RCMP.

    I also agree you get much more pay from the GN or these Inuit Organizations compared to the Feds. They also offer much lower rent!!

    With the high cost of living in Nunavut, anyone will choose a much higher rate of pay.

    Hope to see more young Inuit getting into policing. If only it wasn’t for social media portraying the bad side of the police, as not all are the same. And you cannot judge one by the actions of another.

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