Systemic racism within the RCMP was under the microscope at a federal committee and RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki told members that a number of changes are coming to the Mounties.
“We’re looking at the way in which we recruit,” said Lucki. “We want to make sure that we are in fact reflective of the communities that we serve and so we want to make sure our proactive recruiters are reflective of that and within our systems that within the recruiting systems we get bringing the right.”
The RCMP, and specifically the commissioner, have been criticized for being tone deaf on issues facing policing in Canada and its effect on Indigenous Peoples.
There have been very public, and very embarrassing videos posted of Mounties using what many say is excessive force when arresting First Nation, Metis or Inuit people, or, in a very recent example, Mounties standing idly by and watching non-Indigenous lobster harvesters destroy the catch of Mi’kmaw fishers in Nova Scotia.
That inaction by police had people and organizations like the Assembly of First Nations, calling for Lucki’s resignation.
“I do want to know, how in the face of a lack of confidence by one of the significant victim groups of systemic racism the Indigenous people of Canada, how in the face of a lack of competence by them can they expect you to deal effectively with that within the police force,” asked NDP MP Jack Harris. “Have you learned anything more about systemic racism since your last appearance before this committee.”
According to Lucki, she’s been listening, learning and consulting with Indigenous leaders and plans are being developed.
One way is looking at police intervention tactics – another is how officers deal with mental health calls.
“That is again to share best practices and to find the best ways to deal with such calls because they are obviously on the increase,” said the commissioner.
“We’re looking at our data sets and we’ve recently put many of those statistics on the on our website such as physical intervention the use of physical intervention or calls for service and we added employee diversity.”
Gary Anandasangaree, the parliamentary secretary to Crown Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett was wondering when the changes would come about.
“When can we expect direct and concrete action on racism? This is the issue of our time in my opinion. And even more so than the pandemic,” he asked.
The commissioner didn’t have an answer for the committee but said training on racism will be made mandatory.