Thirty-six Indigenous people from across Saskatchewan interested in a policing career with the RCMP recently travelled to Regina to work on the initial stages of their RCMP officer application. Over three days, they got a taste of what it’s like to be an RCMP Cadet as part of a first of its kind Saskatchewan RCMP Indigenous Recruiting Session. Applicants travelled from as far north as Stony Rapids and as southwest as Maple Creek.

The recruiting session provided these individuals the opportunity to tour the RCMP’s Training Academy at RCMP Depot in Regina, experience different aspects of cadet training, learn how to prepare for the RCMP’s fitness testing, and receive mentoring and preparation from Indigenous recruiters while completing initial application paperwork.

The background:

In August of 2022, the Saskatchewan RCMP established an Indigenous Recruiting Unit (IRU). “One of the Saskatchewan RCMP’s top priorities is ensuring our officers are representative of the communities we serve and, as such, enhancing recruiting efforts in Indigenous communities is critical to ensuring our success in this area,” states Saskatchewan RCMP’s Commanding Officer, A/Commr. Rhonda Blackmore. “The officers of this new unit work alongside current Saskatchewan RCMP Recruiters to meet and recruit those applicants who endeavor to be a positive influence in and protect their communities as future police officers.”

The unit has three recruiters located in Regina, Saskatoon and Prince Albert who travel across the province, visiting communities (large, small, remote) and provide information to people considering law enforcement as a career. The recruiters attend various community events and share their own personal experiences of joining the RCMP as an Indigenous person.

The goal:

The Saskatchewan RCMP put three all-Indigenous troops through training between the years of 2000 and 2002. Those troops produced highly trained and skilled officers, many of whom devoted their whole careers to the RCMP and will soon be looking at retirement.

The Saskatchewan RCMP IRU is focused on putting a new all-Indigenous troop through cadet training in 2023. This troop will be comprised of Indigenous applicants from Saskatchewan, who will in turn be posted back to their home province of Saskatchewan upon completion of training. These officers will bring valuable perspectives and understandings of their cultures and in turn, will enhance policing within our province.

Assistant Commissioner Rhonda Blackmore believes the recruiting, training and hiring of Indigenous officers also provides an opportunity to support our First Nations as they begin to make the move towards self-administered policing. “We can offer fully trained resources for self-administered policing in our First Nation communities.”

The road to success:

Mentorship is an important role for the Indigenous recruiters, as they know the application process can be intimidating. In an effort to help applicants through the daunting process and to continue to provide guidance and support to our applicants, the Saskatchewan RCMP Indigenous Recruiting Session was planned. This multi-day session provided recruiters an opportunity to work closely with applicants, assist in the application process and share their own personal experiences as Indigenous officers.

“This recruiting session really gives our Indigenous applicants the opportunity for that one-on-one mentorship and a first-hand view of what a possible career with the RCMP looks like. It provides a chance for our Indigenous applicants to see and hear about the unique opportunities it can offer our Indigenous people,“ says Indigenous recruiter Cst. Wanda McKenzie. Cst. McKenzie, who is fluent in the Cree language, took some time to share her experience of using the Cree language and culture in her RCMP career with applicants. “Not many people speak Cree or Dene, or other Indigenous languages. The opportunities it has given me in my career have been so unbelievable that I can’t even share them all with you today. We need more of this in the RCMP so we can be a better team. Take the time to learn the language and use the languages, as they will take you places and can help you out in our communities.”

Over the course of three days, applicants had many opportunities to listen to guest speakers who shared their own personal experiences and provided inspiration to continue the application process.

Applicants were visited by 2nd Vice Chief Edward “Dutch” Lerat and Jason Stonechild of FSIN who provided their support and encouraged applicants in their journey. The Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan, His Honour Russ Mirasty also attended a meet and greet session with the applicants, where he shared some of his own personal experiences from his time with the Force.

The future:

At the end of the recruiting session, many applicants weren’t ready for the event to end, stating they felt at home and enjoyed the experience.

Indigenous Recruiter Cpl. Kim Gobeil looks forward to what is to come, stating, “We are hopeful that these applicants will not only see the remainder of their application processes through to the end, but that they will continue to reach out to our Indigenous recruiters for mentorship and discussions throughout the process. We hope their positive experience with the Indigenous Recruiting Session is shared with others when they return to their home communities and that we can continue hosting similar events and really make an impact on RCMP recruitment in our province.”