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Canada should require more than a Grade 12 education for police and RCMP officers

At minimum, police should know the history of the communities they’ll have power over.

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Of the 820 hours spent at the RCMP's Cadet Training in Regina, 67 are spent on driving training. - VAI RCMP
  • VAI RCMP
  • Of the 820 hours spent at the RCMP's Cadet Training in Regina, 67 are spent on driving training.

The RCMP is in the midst of conducting a criminal investigation of the country’s deadliest mass shooting, which began in Portapique, Nova Scotia April 18, 2020.

Several questions have been raised about the force’s handling of the 13-hour rampage but also whether police acted appropriately on previous serious complaints about the gunman, including domestic abuse allegations and that he had illegal firearms in his possession.

Nothing ever gets resolved when it’s not taken seriously by any level of government party, and right now federal, provincial and municipal governments are passing the buck on an inquiry or responsibility.

There needs to be a restructuring of the RCMP department. The application process to apply for a career as an RCMP officer needs to be addressed and revised before recruiting students from high school. To apply to the police academy the new recruit must have a Grade 12 certificate, and a clean criminal record.  Once accepted the recruit has to pass 26 weeks of physical training, and to be able to push or pull 75 pounds, run an obstacle course and pass a liver and kidney test. Then, they’re given an RCMP uniform and a badge—and the right to arrest you under whatever grounds they see fit, whether it is justified or not.

The requirements in the application are not sufficient. The law needs to change from the bottom up. It’s imperative that the application process is reviewed and requirements are changed to look after the interests and wellbeing of the people; the public.

If you own a sweater that says Nhilist, you too can be an actor at the RCMP's training academy in Regina, Saskatchewan. - VIA RCMP
  • VIA RCMP
  • If you own a sweater that says Nhilist, you too can be an actor at the RCMP's training academy in Regina, Saskatchewan.

It should be mandatory that all new applicants prior to applying to the RCMP Academy for the 26-week physical training course have an undergraduate degree in Social Work, Sociology, Social Anthropology and Black and Native History. Or a prerequisite of working as a frontline worker for one year in community services. When dealing with the public, there’s more required than being able to run an obstacle course in record time.

It’s not in the public’s best interest to hire a person fresh out of high school to be a police officer. These young people have no experience, haven’t even set foot outside their own cultural comfort zone. Arrests are often made on the most vulnerable people in society unbeknownst to the police officers. How do you expect them to deal with a person of any other colour or race?

Justin Trudeau doesn’t even know what diversity means. It’s celebrating people’s cultural differences, but most Canadian schools left out the part about Native and Black history, so most Canadians have no idea that we even have a history. If you are going to lead the people, or have authority over those people—you should at least know the history of people.

Florestine Bird is an Ojibwe woman who completed a double major in sociology and social anthropology at Dalhousie University in 1997.

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