Local Indigenous youth uses RCMP leadership experience to help younger children
- EFN Staff | August 30, 2018
A group of 16 students from across Canada was honoured in the closing ceremonies of this year’s RCMP Youth Leadership Workshop at the RCMP Academy ‘Depot’ Division in Regina on August 25th.
The selected students who attended the workshop are in grades 9-12 and each one was accompanied by an RCMP police mentor from their respective communities.
Erik Little Poplar, 16, does a lot in his school John Paul Collegiate and the community of North Battleford. His work was noticed and he was asked by the community liaison officer to attend the RCMP Youth Leadership Workshop.
“I’ve met a lot of people from different backgrounds and what other communities are facing,” said Little Poplar who will be going into Grade 12 in the fall. “We’ve learned a lot of problem solving skills, team-building exercises and we got more comfortable…to communicate very well.”
One of the workshop’s main objectives was for the youth to identify one of the main problems facing the youth in their communities and to create an operation Community Action Plan (CAP) along with the guidance of the accompanied police mentor. Throughout the week, the youth worked on a plan and received various inputs from others to incorporate in their CAP. Little Poplar said one of the main problems his community faces are mental health issues such as youth suicide. But he narrowed his focus to the younger ones to help them to get more attention. He plans on bringing performing artists, himself included, to perform in North Battleford schools to kids in Grade 5-7 and give them a positive message.
“We realize there’s a lot of gang violence in my community,” he said. “So, if we can give these youth somebody to look up to, it can lead them to making positive choices academically and outside school as well.”
Onion Lake RCMP Community Program Officer Leili Yazdani accompanied Little Poplar to the workshop in Regina. This was her third year attending the RCMP Youth Leadership Workshop and said this year, she felt completely inspired by listening to the ideas from the youth.
“When [Little Poplar] came up with his action plan, we had some discussions on what he wanted to do,” she said. “Erik had a real good idea of what he wanted to do and he had a vision before he came. It’s a wonderful opportunity for youth to build relationships with the RCMP and to develop their skills further.”
Yazdani said Little Poplar’s CAP idea was very inspirational and has shown it will have a positive impact on youth.
“When I get back to Onion Lake, I’m going to share with the youth there what [Little Poplar] is doing,” she said. “We have similar issues in our community and it’s always good to share ideas especially what the youth think is important.”
Over the past week, attendees identified youth crime and victimization issues through interactive educational sessions and developed youth-led, police-supported action plans to help keep their communities safe.
Louis Zuniga, the manager of National Youth Services, said this program has run for six years now and has had many success stories from the attendees throughout the years.
“This program has transformed [many attendees] professionally and academically,” said Zuniga. “When come of them arrived to Depot, many of them were very reserved. But when they leave, there’s a bond between the students and [accompanied officers]. It was quite inspirational.”
Inspector Honey Dwyer, Officer in Charge of RCMP F Division (Saskatchewan) Community Policing, addressed and presented each participant with certificates of appreciation.