Canada’s Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller says RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki must come through with a promise she made to Indigenous peoples and the right to have proper policing.
“Almost two years to this date when she spoke to the murdered and missing Indigenous women’s commission, that as part of the apology from the RCMP, that she undertook to do better, and that Indigenous peoples were entitled to the best there was of the RCMP,” Miller said at the government’s daily news conference. “That was a promise two years ago.”
Miller says no one can deny that there is systemic racism in all institutions in Canada.
He pointed to the high incarceration rates of Indigenous and black peoples in Canada’s prisons – and the higher than average unemployment rates.
But Thursday’s news conference was squarely focused on Lucki, and the problems within the RCMP as of late.
There have been a series of high profile incidents that include video of an RCMP officer in Kinngait, Nunavut knocking an Inuk man to the ground with the open door of his police vehicle.
Then Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Chief Allan Adam went public showing pictures of his bloodied and bruised face he says he got at the hands of the RCMP during an arrest.
After these incidents, the higher ups within the RCMP started putting the spot light on themselves.
First, the head of the RCMP in Alberta.
“I don’t believe that racism is systemic through Canadian policing. I don’t believe it’s systemic through policing in Alberta,” Curtis Zablocki told CBC.
Then Lucki, head of the RCMP in Canada who spoke to selected national media outlets, said she didn’t know what systemic racism was.
“So when I think of it in those terms, I think it’s not completely systemic,” Lucki told CTV. “But then I think of the terms of unconscious bias. I think we’re not immune to that, and I think there is unconscious bias in or organization and we work hard to work through it.”
Despite repeated requests, Lucki would not agree to an interview with APTN News.
The incidents and interviews have spread across social media and through politics.
In Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spent much of his COVID-19 briefing answering questions about Lucki from reporters.
“So it’s a difficult and even uncomfortable conversation. And there are people who highlight that, well, it’s painting all our institutions with a negative brush and it’s not being proud of the Canada that we built and that our ancestors have built – nonsense,” Trudeau said. “It’s knowing we could be. It’s knowing this country remains a work in progress.
“That we can and we must do better.”
Trudeau was also asked if he believed Lucki can root out racism in the RCMP.
“I have confidence in commissioner Lucki and I know that the changes she has already begun to bring to our national police force and the work that we’re going to be doing together int he coming months is going to make a huge difference in combatting systemic racism and reducing it in this country,” he said.
Senator Murray Sinclair who led the Truth and Reconciliation Commission responded to the RCMP commissioner on social media.
“If Commissioner Lucki believes this, then she does not understand what systemic discrimination is,” Sinclair wrote on Facbook. “It’s about a system’s rules, procedures and practices.
“Get rid of the racists and you will still have a racist system.”