North Island Mounties don’t to just talk about reconciliation. They want it stamped into their welcome mat in a way that makes it clear to First Peoples of their community.
RCMP members were proud last week to show off brand-new Indigenous decals on the front door of the Port Hardy precinct.
Three local First Nation bands’ symbols (Gwa’sala-‘Nakwax’daxw, Quatsino and Kwakiutl) are now all represented on the door alongside three Kwak’wala words: one that translates roughly to “he or she who stays alert,” another that translates to “respect,” and then there is “Gilakas’la” which translates to “welcome.”
Corporal Chris Voller stated the reason behind adding these decals to the door is that the Port Hardy detachment is still actively working towards reconciliation.
“I’ve been working in the community for three years and I’ve had the opportunity to get to know a lot of our community members from a leadership perspective within the individual Indigenous communities as well as the people who reside there,” Voller said. “The stories of relocation and residential school housing have really resonated with us, and unfortunately as police we are often dealing with some of the residual effects these issues have caused and still continue to cause in these communities.”
Voller noted that as the Port Hardy RCMP continue to work towards reconciliation, a big portion of it is “trying to show respect to Indigenous people and build a relationship between the RCMP and these communities, especially given the tumultuous past that we have.”
Above all else, Voller said the decals are meant to tell community members from these three nations that “they are able to come here and feel welcome and feel comfortable in the police detachment.”
Cst. Jordan Mullen, who has taken over Cst. Paul Starr’s role as Indigenous policing services in town, said that he’s very fortunate that Starr had established “a really good relationship with the Indigenous communities here, and I’m just hoping to continue with the good efforts that Paul had put forward — I’ve been very welcomed and it’s been an enjoyable experience so far.”
As for Cst. Jason Tymofichuk, who was also on hand for the decals being placed on the building, he said he feels fortunate to be able to police in a community like this and experience the culture.
“One of the bands opened up a tour and took us out to their traditional territory and it was one of the most interesting things I’ve ever done,” he said. “It’s good to get some insight on what really happened here and educate ourselves so we can have that in the back of our mind when doing our day to day duties.”
Voller added at the end of the presentation that the Port Hardy RCMP “want to be emotionally respectful of the past while still trying to uphold the laws.”