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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Native Women’s Association of Canada calls for immediate RCMP reforms

"These reforms would be a starting point in ending the violence. Many more would have to follow."

As protests and social and political change in response to police violence and racism are sweeping across North America, in Canada there are been several disturbing incidents of such violence and racism recently.

Mack Lamoureux noted June 22 in Vice, that in Canada at "least five people have died during mental health calls or wellness checks by police since April. All five were Black, Indigenous, or people of colour."

In addition to this there have been non-lethal violent incidents such as an RCMP officer driving a truck into a man in Nunavut in June as well as the brutal RCMP assault on Chief Allan Adam in Alberta in March, both of which also involved Indigenous people.

Now the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) "is calling upon ministers — federal, provincial and territorial — as well as police forces across Canada and the RCMP to take the first necessary steps to end the needless deaths and assaults of Indigenous women, men and gender-diverse people at the hands of Canadian police."

In a letter today (June 23) to RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki -- with whom she is to meet in July -- Lorraine Whitman, President of NWAC said:

We, as Indigenous women, did not need to read the recent spate of tragic news to understand the tragic outcomes that can occur when our people have encounters with law enforcement in this country. But we ask that you use this moment to begin taking the steps necessary to prevent further lives from being lost.

The first three steps NWAC wants taken as soon as possible are:

We are asking that all frontline RCMP police officers be equipped with body cameras.
We are asking that “shoot-to-kill” orders be revised to make non-violent apprehension the imperative when suspects are not brandishing firearms, and to better train officers on how to de-escalate potentially dangerous situations.
And we are asking, as have so many others in recent days, that some of the duties currently performed by RCMP when called to deal with an Indigenous person who is suffering from a mental health issue be turned over to social workers, health professionals or elders.

Whitman states that "These reforms would be a starting point in ending the violence. Many more would have to follow."

Her letter ends:

We also ask the RCMP and other Canadian police forces to join NWAC in forming a task force that will rewrite the relationship between police and Indigenous women.
We want culturally appropriate protocols that will keep our women, girls and gender-diverse people safe, not just from street killers and other assailants who have targeted them as prey, but from the police themselves.

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