RCMP Indigenous Commissioner: A 'great idea,' says Justin Trudeau

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Indigenous commissioner to the RCMP: a “great idea,” says Justin Trudeau

The Prime Minister reiterated that the choice of the next person to head the RCMP will be made through an independent process.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said having an Indigenous person as the next RCMP commissioner would be “a great idea,” but cautioned that he doesn't believe such a designation will be enough to address the issues of the federal police.

The Prime Minister was fielding questions from reporters in Winnipeg on Friday about a call from some First Nations leaders for Ottawa to ensure the next head of the RCMP is Indigenous.

“I think it's a great idea to see more and more Indigenous leadership in the systems and institutions of the country. We should definitely focus on having more diversity.

— Justin Trudeau

Nonetheless, Mr. Trudeau pointed out that the next person to serve as RCMP Commissioner will be selected through a independent process, details of which have yet to be announced.

We will always seek to ensure that the diversity of Canada as a whole and Indigenous representation are part of our considerations.

Mr. Trudeau has made reconciliation one of of his top priorities since taking office in 2015. In addition to spending billions on various initiatives, the Prime Minister appointed the first Indigenous Governor General in the person of Inuk leader Mary Simon.

Her firm also confirmed Michelle O'Bonsawin, an Abenaki member of the Odanak community, as the first Indigenous justice to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Commissioner of RCMP officer Brenda Lucki is due to retire this month, shortly before the end of her five-year term.

She was appointed in April 2018 and led the federal policing for a chaotic few years that included the deadliest mass shooting in modern Canadian history, as well as growing calls to defund the police and allegations of systemic racism within the RCMP.

When appointed, Ms. Lucki became the first woman to hold the office permanently.

The police force, which marks its 150th anniversary in May, has faced criticism over its historical and current relationship with Indigenous peoples. The RCMP is the primary policing force for many First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities through contractual agreements with provinces and territories.

Officers have faced allegations that they have failed to properly investigate or take seriously the disappearances and deaths of Indigenous women and girls in Canada.

In 2018, Ms. Lucki issued an apology to the families of some women who were part of an investigation into the matter, saying that for many of you the RCMP has been unhelpful. height during those terrible times.

In a series of media interviews in June 2020, Ms. Lucki said she struggled with the definition of racism systemic, which earned her strong criticism from Indigenous leaders, who pointed out that she promised to improve relations with their communities.

Subsequently, she expressed in a written statement that she should have acknowledged in a more assertive way that systemic racism exists within the ranks of the RCMP.

Friday, Ms. .Trudeau stressed that choosing an Indigenous official to lead the RCMP would not in itself solve the problems of federal policing.

We must understand that he is not It's not just about putting the right person in charge of an organization to achieve the systemic change needed, he said. There is tremendous work to be done on the structures in our institutions, including the RCMP, to ensure that the entire force, the entire system, fully respects Indigenous peoples and diversity.

< p class="e-p">An internal report on the RCMP's progress on reconciliation released in 2022 highlighted its difficulties in recruiting and retaining Indigenous members in its ranks.

The document showed that Indigenous representation had slipped to 7% in 2020, from 8% in 2010.

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