First Nations Policing

Written by Harold McNeill on June 26th, 2019. Posted in Police Notebook, Tim Hortons Morning Posts, Editorials


On June 24, 2019, a feature-length article appeared in the Globe and Mail,
No Weapons, No Charges: A Yukon First Nation’s solution for keeping the peace.

This excerpt: “In Whitehorse, colonialism and crime have damaged the people of the Kwanlin Dun’s relationships with the RCMP and one another. Now, a pilot project is trying to do policing differently – earning trust and respect in the community, as well as national international attention.”

Back in the 1970s or 80s, while in the early mid-stage of my police career, I became heavily involved in promoting ‘community policing’ efforts both in Oak Bay and around the Province. At one point, I participated in several community policing workshops involving persons with various backgrounds searching for and promoting new ideas for policing. One idea that had surfaced, and seemed to hold considerable promise, became known as the “Indian Constable System”.

Following the seminar, I spent a few weeks researching the subject, then writing and distributing a paper summarizing the program. Because my interests weren’t directly related to policing First Nations lands, I never ended up doing any follow-up work. However, I did occasionally communicate with a few people who were involved, including one or two First Nations individuals who became police officers on their home reserves. Over the years, I simply lost track of how the program progressed until I read the above article in the Globe and Mail yesterday.  The Globe article suggested this was a new concept.

In fact, the program in Whitehorse is almost an exact summary of that which was being researched and promoted back in the sixties and seventies. A Google search suggests that early impetus in community policing on First Nations lands and by First Nations members fell by the wayside. Neither did the search reveal any in depth information on the subject other than this summary from a BC Government Web Page:

The province provides policing services in First Nations communities in rural areas or in First Nations communities in municipalities with populations up to 5,000. Municipalities with populations greater than 5,000 provide policing to First Nations located in their boundaries.

The Stl’atl’imx (Stat-la-mic) Tribal Police Service is the only First Nations administered police force in British Columbia. The Stl’atl’imx Tribal Police Service is a designated policing unit under the Police Act. It is like an independent municipal police department and has a police board comprised of community members.

Stl’atl’imx police are experienced officers or graduates of the Justice Institute of British Columbia. Its officers are appointed under the Police Act.

The First Nations Community Policing Services (FNCPS) program provides many First Nations communities across the province with police services. This enhanced local police service is provided by additional RCMP members who are familiar with First Nations’ cultures and traditions.

See First Nations Policing for more information.

This lack of information on Google suggests a program that held out great promise back in the mid-late part of the last century simply fell by the wayside.   I wonder what happened that forty years later, we are now again just looking at this as being a program with great promise.  I find it most perplexing and shall try and dig out that old paper and see what was actually being promoted so many years ago.

Harold McNeill
Oak Bay Police
Det/Sgt (retired – 1994)

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Comments

  • Harold McNeill

    February 28, 2022 |

    Hi Robert, I do remember some of those folks from my early years in Cold Lake (Hazel was my aunt and our family spent many fond times with Uncle Melvin, Aunt Hazel and Family. I knew Lawrence and Adrian. Having read a half dozen accounts it is clear their were many false narratives and, perhaps, a few truths along the way. I tried my best to provide an even account from what I read. Cheers, Harold. (email: Harold@mcneillifestories.com)

  • Robert Martineau

    February 25, 2022 |

    Its been a long time since any post here, but its worth a shot. My Grandfather was Hazel Wheelers brother Lawrence, and son to Maggie and Adrien. Maggie Martineau (nee Delaney) is my great grandmother. The books and articles to date are based on the white mans viewpoint and the real story as passed down by the Elders in my family is much more nefarious. Some of the white men were providing food for the Indians in exchange for sexual favors performed by the Squaws. Maggie was the product of one of those encounters. Although I am extremely proud of my family and family name, I am ashamed about this part of it.

  • Julue

    January 28, 2022 |

    Good morning Harold!
    Gosh darn it, you are such a good writer. I hope you have been writing a book about your life. It could be turned into a movie.
    Thanks for this edition to your blog.
    I pray that Canadians will keep their cool this weekend and next week in Ottawa. How do you see our PM handling it? He has to do something and quick!
    Xo Julie

  • Herb Craig

    December 14, 2021 |

    As always awesome job Harold. It seems whatever you do in life the end result is always the same professional, accurate, inclusive and entertaining. You have always been a class act and a great fellow policeman to work with. We had some awesome times together my friend. I will always hold you close as a true friend. Keep up the good work. Hope to see you this summer.
    Warm regards
    Herb Craig

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Hi Dorthy, So glad you found those stories and, yes, they hold many fond memories. Thanks to social media and the blog, I’ve been able to get in touch with many friends from back in the day. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Well, well. Pleased to see your name pop up. I’m in regular contact via FB with many ‘kids’ from back in our HS days (Guy, Dawna, Shirley and others). Also, a lot of Cold Lake friends through FB. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Oh, that is many years back and glad you found the story. I don’t have any recall of others in my class other than the Murphy sisters on whose farm my Dad and Mom worked.

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Pleased to hear from you Howie and trust all is going well. As with you, I have a couple of sad stories of times in my police career when I crossed paths with Ross Barrington Elworthy. Just haven’t had the time to write those stories.

  • Howie Siegel

    November 25, 2021 |

    My only fight at Pagliacci’s was a late Sunday night in 1980 (?) He ripped the towel machine off the bathroom wall which brought me running. He came after me, I grabbed a chair and cracked him on the head which split his skull and dropped him. I worried about the police finding him on the floor. I had just arrived from Lasqueti Island and wasn’t convinced the police were my friends. I dragged him out to Broad and Fort and left him on the sidewalk, called the cops. They picked him up and he never saw freedom again (as far as I know). I found out it was Ross Elworthy.

  • Herbert Plain

    November 24, 2021 |

    Just read you article on Pibroch excellent. My Dad was Searle Grain company agent we move there in 1942/3 live in town by the hall for 5 years than moved one mile east to the farm on the corner where the Pibroch road meets Hwy 44. Brother Don still lives there. I went to school with you and Louise.