Mountie transferred from Bella Bella, B.C., after complaints about Facebook posts

The leadership of a First Nation on British Columbia’s central coast says an RCMP officer has been transferred after the community called for his removal from Bella Bella over social media comments he made before joining the Mounties.

A statement posted by the Heiltsuk Tribal Council on Wednesday says RCMP told the nation that the transfer process for the constable was complete and he would be leaving the community this weekend.

In an earlier letter to the local RCMP detachment, Heiltsuk Chief Marilyn Slett said the officer had posted “racist text and images” on a personal Facebook account under a different name.

Slett’s letter included images of a social media post showing a man dressed in a colonial-style uniform in front of a Union Jack flag, with a comment: “Now, what’s to be done about these pesky natives stirring up trouble in the colonies.”

Slett has said the posts are connected to a “deeper pattern of colonial violence and systemic racism against Indigenous people,” and Heiltsuk members were feeling unsafe while the officer was still working in the community.

In a statement last week, Chief Supt. Brian Edmonds with the RCMP’s North District said the posts were made “nine to 17 years” before the officer joined the force.

Slett’s letter also included a social media post with an image showing white man wearing an Afro-style wig with a caption saying “BLACK AND PROUD.”

Slett had previously said RCMP officials told Heiltsuk leaders during a meeting that the officer’s transfer process was underway but could take 45 to 90 days.

The transfer ultimately comes about two weeks after Slett’s letter, dated May 17.

Hemas Harvey Humchitt, a hereditary chief with the Heiltsuk Nation, says it’s unfortunate the RCMP didn’t prevent the officer from serving in Bella Bella in the first place.

“But our community’s voice is powerful and effective in pushing for change,” he said in a statement. “Our joint leadership is grateful for the passion, resilience and sense of justice of our community members, and looks forward to fighting for the better policing that our community deserves.”

There have been recent tensions between the Heiltsuk and police.

Heiltsuk Nation member Maxwell Johnson was wrongly arrested and handcuffed in 2019 with his then-12-year-old granddaughter outside a Vancouver bank, triggering a human rights complaint against the Vancouver Police Board.

The community held a trauma-healing ceremony in 2022 following a settlement. But the two officers involved in the arrest did not attend, prompting a Heiltsuk chief to return a gift he received from Vancouver police Chief Adam Palmer.

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