Saskatoon police recruitment session targets Aboriginal officers
- Fraser Needham | February 03, 2015
The Saskatoon Police Service is looking to get more Aboriginal people involved in the force.
SPS held a special recruitment session with the goal of increasing the number of Indigenous officers in the police force on Jan. 29.
Police Chief Clive Weighill says there is currently about 11 per cent of the police force that self identifies as Aboriginal and there is always room for improvement.
“You know our population in Saskatoon’s around 20 per cent First Nations or Métis and that’s pretty well what the police service should be at a bare minimum,” he says. “I would like to see an even higher number. I think it’s important that people see that we understand the culture, we understand the history and we have members that understand that.”
Saskatoon Tribal Council Chief Felix Thomas says with a high number of Indigenous people living within the inner city, it is important to have Aboriginal officers out on the beat.
“It’s important that they’re there when they go to White Buffalo (Youth Lodge) and the programming with our kids that those kids can now say that there’s now a different perception of the police when they come knocking on their doors,” he says. “Not always bad but it could be good news or they just want to say hi.”
Weighill admits police relations with the Aboriginal community have been strained from time to time but the force is always looking to improve on these relations.
“I think the Saskatoon Police Service has come a long way. We’re not perfect, we haven’t hit utopia yet but I think we’ve come a long way and I think we’re a service that really demonstrates we’re trying to and to build the trust and heal old wounds.”
Thomas also says Aboriginal relations with police have come a long way from where they were a decade ago.
“If it hadn’t improved substantially, we wouldn’t be here (recruitment session) and the regular discussions, and the frank discussions, that I personally have with Chief Weighill on different issues and different events. It’s one of those things where we have a relationship where we can pick up the phone and call each other and have our calls returned if they’re not there.”
The recruitment session featured a question and answer period and information on the selection and training process to become a police officer.
About 60 people attended the session at SPS headquarters on 25th Street East.