Indigenous Reconciliation Action Plan

In the final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls there are 11 “Calls for Police Services” (recommendations) and 21 related sub categories for Police Services and government bodies to implement. These can be found in the final report under Calls for Police Services Pages 190 - 218, paragraphs 9.1- 9.11.

Building Trust & Credibility with Alberta’s Indigenous People through Cultural Competency

Developing future strategies to build and improve trust between MHPS and the indigenous community of Medicine Hat is an important first step in the journey of reconciliation. Building cultural competency is an integral part of improving trust between MHPS and Medicine Hat’s indigenous community. A consequence of obtaining cultural competency will translate into effective policies that will improve MHPS service delivery when meeting needs of the local indigenous population.


Joint Statement - Police Chief & Police Commission Chairperson

We recognize that all First Nations, Inuit, and Métis families can raise their children in Medicine Hat with the same safety, security, and human rights that non-Indigenous families living in Medicine Hat do. When providing Police Services to all indigenous persons, we will recognize their distinctions and these distinctions will include self identification, regional specific information and the gendered lens of 2SLGBTQQIA.

Local History

The Medicine Hat area, including South Eastern Alberta, the Cypress Hills, and the South West Saskatchewan area, is rich in indigenous history such as First Nations cultures of the Blackfoot Confederacy, Nakoda/Assiniboine, Cree and Metis.  

Medicine Hat’s Indigenous Population

According to the Stats Canada 2016 census the following makes up the indigenous population residing in Medicine Hat. According to the latest census the overall population is 62,935. Of this general population, the ‘Aboriginal Identity’ population according to the 2021 census is 3,225 citizens.

According to Stats Canada, ‘Aboriginal identity' includes persons who are First Nations (North American Indian), Métis or Inuk (Inuit) and/or those who are registered or Treaty Indians (that is, registered under the Indian Act of Canada) and/or those who have membership in a First Nation or Indian band. Aboriginal peoples of Canada are defined in the Constitution Act, 1982, section 35 (2) as including the Indian, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada.

According to the 2021 census the breakdown of the indigenous population in Medicine Hat is as follows:

First Nations (North American Indian) 1,020       

Métis  2,065  

Inuk (Inuit)   40

Multiple Indigenous responses  45

Indigenous response not included elsewhere 55

This action plan recognizes the influences of other indigenous persons who regularly visit, shop or live in Medicine Hat and travel here from other areas around South Eastern Alberta and South West Saskatchewan and who are not included in the enumerated census for the indigenous population of Medicine Hat.

The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls Report (MMIWG)

The MMIWG report provides this action plan with several “Calls to Police Services” that provide a framework for MHPS to follow in the reconciliation journey.  Several of the Calls for Police Services in the MMIWG report are either not applicable to MHPS as they fall to the jurisdiction of the Provincial and/or the Federal Government to action or because MHPS already follows the recommendation as a policing best practice.

Our Commitment to the Calls for Police Services

We will continue to build respectful working relationships with all Indigenous Peoples by creating an enhanced cultural understanding and by recognizing them as community members we serve.

Our Action Plan

Indigenous Advisory Committee

Create a Chief’s Indigenous Advisory Committee and invite indigenous community leaders to meet and consider matters relating to policing services for Indigenous peoples in this community. The Committee will be made up of the Chief of Police, Chair of the Medicine Hat Police Commission, local Indigenous leaders, Métis Elders, as well as other MHPS staff. 

Action Item:  The committee will meet four times throughout the year, coinciding with the beginning of every new season, to connect and advise the police service on current issues relating to Indigenous and police relations within the community.

Status: Ongoing.  The first meeting was held on June 23, 2021. This group helps to guide the MHPS by advising us on our path towards reconciliation efforts and ensuring we are meeting the needs of our local community.  Meetings are held three to four times per year.

MHPS Policy Review
Review all MHPS policies, practices, and procedures to ensure service delivery that is culturally appropriate meets the needs of Indigenous Peoples.

Action Item: Complete policy review through the lens of inclusiveness and understanding of Indigenous culture, values and norms and to ensure no barriers or implicit biases exist within policies or practices.

Status: In Progress

To assist with this review the MHPS has contacted the Blood Tribe Police Service who have committed to conducting a review of all MHPS policies through an Indigenous lens.

Establish a Police Indigenous Liason Officer Position

The MHPS Police Indigenous Liason Officer (PILO) will lead the services’ efforts in community liaison work, community relationship building, and community crime-prevention programs within and for Indigenous people in Medicine Hat in a respectful way.

Action Item: Establish a PILO who will be responsible to identifying and liaising with any local elders and Indigenous organizations.

Status:  Completed  Cst. Lori Parasynchuk is the current MHPS PILO.

At a ceremony held on September 23, 2022 Cst. Parasynchuk was honoured with the name Naato Awo’taan Aakii, ‘Holy Shield Woman’ in recognition of her commitment to building relationships with the local Indigenous population.  During the ceremony Elder Fox shared stories of survival in his lifetime, blessings he passed on to Cst. Parasynchuk before she received her new Blackfoot spirit name, then gently pushed her forward as a symbol of stepping into her new identity.

Training for MHPS Recruits

The MHPS Police Recruit Training Program  to include anti-bias training and indigenous culture training. All training will be distinctions-based and relevant to the land and local Indigenous people being served.

Action Item: Indigenous People and Cultural Awareness training has been incorporated into the police recruit training program curriculum. This training is continually reviewed and updated, in partnership with the Blood Tribe Police Service, to ensure participants of the training understand and recognize local Indigenous history, culture, and the challenges facing Indigenous persons in contemporary society.

Status: Ongoing

Review of Outstanding MMIWG Investigations
Action Items: The MHPS Major Crimes Section (MCS) will review all RMS Police records for any outstanding investigations pertaining to all unresolved files of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people from the Medicine Hat jurisdiction. These files will be reviewed and if necessary reinvestigated. All non sensitive information will be disclosed and provided to the families.
Status: Completed.  As of May 10, 2021 MCS reviewed all files of missing persons in Medicine Hat as far back as our records allow and found that there were no unresolved cases requiring further investigation. 
Incorporation of Indigenous Culture
Ancillary cultural indigenous initiatives will include the exploration of the Eagle feather Oath option and the Indigenous land acknowledgement at the commencement of MHPS events.

Action Item: Administrative Services to develop policy to allow indigenous persons to use a sacred Eagle feather. The Eagle Feather is to be offered as an option for providing an oath swearing by a traditional Indigenous form of conscience binding. This will be offered in addition to the swearing on a religious text or making a non-religious affirmation.

Status: Completed. On June 25th,2021 the MHPS Executive Team along with RSM Fishley and the Indigenous Liaison Cst. Parasynchuk traveled to Standoff, AB to take part in a ceremony where the MHPS was gifted a sacred Eagle Feather.  A gift from the Blackfoot community - the feather was transferred to the MHPS after being blessed in a smudging ceremony on Friday.  The feather will be used as an option for newly hired police officers to use to promise their oath, or to provide culturally significant support to victims or witnesses.  The feather was beaded specifically for the MHPS and it is a great honour for the organization to receive this gift. 

Action Item: MHPS Administrative Services to develop a policy or practice to include local Indigenous land acknowledgment for all community boardroom meetings held by outside agencies and with outside agencies.

Status: Completed

Action Item: Renaming of the MHPS Community Boardroom

Status:  Completed

On September 23, 2022 the MHPS, in collaboration with the Miywasin Friendship Centre, held a traditional Blackfoot naming ceremony.  During the ceremony a Blackfoot name was bestowed upon the community space, to honor and acknowledge the Indigenous history of the land.

Medicine Hat is situated on Treaty 7 and Treaty 4 territory, traditional lands of the Siksika (Blackfoot), Kainai (blood), Pikani (Peigan), Stoney- Nakoda, and Tsuut`ina (Sarcee) as well as the Cree, Sioux and the Saulteaux bands of the Ojibwa peoples and is also on the Métis Nation within District Two, Battle River Territory.  According to the most recently available census data (2021), Medicine Hat is currently home to approximately 3,225 residents who identify as Indigenous.

One of the goals of the MHPS Indigenous Reconciliation Action Plan developed in 2021, was to create a respectful working relationship with all Indigenous people and enhance cultural understanding.  Working with members of the Chief’s Indigenous Advisory Committee, it was felt that renaming the boardroom would pay tribute to the history of this area being a traditional gathering spot for Indigenous communities.

During the ceremony the name, Aahkoinnimaan ni, was selected by Elder Charlie Fox of the Kainai Nation, a word that translates as the sacred pipe, a symbol of justice and peace that has a traditional role in the resolution of issues.

After the ceremony a come-and-go celebration was held to allow all community members an opportunity to attend and view a mural painted by local Métis artist, Ray-Al Hochman.  The room also has four canvas art pieces installed that were created by JoLynn Parenteau, an Indigenous housing and homeless navigator with the Miywasin Friendship Centre and a member of the Chief’s Indigenous Advisory Committee.  Each of the four paintings highlights the traditional language of the Blackfoot, Michif, Ojibwe and Plains Cree peoples.


Waiving of Fees for Administrative Costs
Action Item:  In recognition of not only the historical trauma but to acknowledge the living trauma of the Survivors of residential schools and the Sixties Scoop, in September 2023 the MHPS, along with all police agencies in Alberta, announced that the fees associated with criminal record checks and fingerprints required for Indigenous people who wish to reclaim their Indigenous name would be waived.

The decision supports The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action report recommendation:

“17. We call upon all levels of government to enable residential school Survivors and their families to reclaim names changed by the residential school system by waiving administrative costs for a period of five years for the name-change process and the revision of official identity documents, such as birth certificates, passports, driver’s licenses, health cards, status cards, and social insurance numbers.”

The Government of Alberta also waives the application fees for residential school Survivors and persons who were part of the Sixties Scoop that wish to reclaim their Indigenous name. Descendants such as children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and spouses/partners of residential school and Sixties Scoop Survivors are also eligible for name changes.

In Alberta, anyone requesting a legal name change requires both a criminal record check and fingerprints, and the payment for these services falls within the scope of Alberta policing agencies. To further remove barriers for all Indigenous people who wish to complete the name change process, there will be no charge from Alberta policing agencies for these services for those seeking to reclaim their Indigenous name.

The MHPS is committed to working collectively with other Alberta policing agencies and Indigenous people across the province on a path toward reconciliation. This work is ongoing and will strive towards restoring trust and confidence in policing among Indigenous people and in communities across the province.

We recognize that walking the journey together toward truth and reconciliation first requires us to understand truth. The truth is that for many Indigenous people, the reclaiming of their Indigenous names is but one step toward the reclamation of much more. As policing agencies across Alberta, seeking to remove barriers for this powerful reclamation is one way we can continue together toward truth and only then, reconciliation.

Status: Completed


Way Forward

This action plan is a way forward that provides some initial concrete steps in recognizing the complexity of intergenerational trauma suffered by Indigenous Peoples and represents a commitment by MHPS and MHPC to work towards maintaining a mutual understanding and respect in the context of providing quality Police Services to all citizens of Medicine Hat.



  1. Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

Census Profile, 2016 Census Medicine Hat Population.