Today, on National Indigenous Peoples Day, the Medicine Hat Police Service joins the rest of the country in celebrating the heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding achievements of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada. We also join in the collective sorrow resulting from the discovery of children’s bodies found at former Residential School sites in BC and MB. We offer our deep and sincere condolences to residential school victims, survivors, their families and First Nation, Metis, and Inuit peoples of this land and reaffirm our commitment to building trust and a stronger relationship with our local Indigenous community in Medicine Hat.
We understand that Indigenous peoples across the country have spoken repeatedly and tirelessly about the atrocities they have experienced and have often been met with words and promises. We recognize that there is still a great deal of work to do to heal from the past.
Earlier this month we released our MHPS Indigenous Action Plan that outlined several initiatives that we intend to take to further develop our cultural competency and understanding. We recognize that doing so is an important first step and integral part of developing effective policies that will improve MHPS service delivery when meeting needs of the local Indigenous population.
On Wednesday, June 23, 2021, the first MHPS Chief’s Indigenous Advisory Council meeting will be held. The Council will be comprised of the Chief of Police, Chair of the Medicine Hat Police Commission, local Indigenous leaders, Métis Elders, as well as other MHPS staff. 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.
On Friday, June 25, 2021, at a ceremony held in Standoff, AB, the MHPS will receive the delivery of a sacred Eagle Feather, that will be offered as an option for swearing to official statements. The Eagle Feather is a symbol of spirituality used in many Indigenous traditions throughout North America. In the spirit of reconciliation, the MHPS has committed to using the eagle feather in the support of numerous calls to action recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. The Eagle Feather will 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.
This evening we will join our community at a celebration of National Indigenous Peoples Day at 6PM held at the Saamis Tepee. During the celebration an elder will bless orange memorial ribbons to be wore on the uniforms of our MHPS officers in support of survivors of residential schools and in remembrance of the children who died. Officers will wear these ribbons from June 21, 2021 until July 21, 2021.
We acknowledge these initiatives are first steps in a long road of recovery and are grateful for our local Indigenous partners for their support as we put words into action, through a community voice and vision to build our future relationships.
Administrative Services Manager
Medicine Hat Police Service