‘The whole system needs to be revamped’ says retired police

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‘The whole system needs to be revamped’ says retired police

Postby Thomas » Sun Apr 04, 2021 4:46 pm

‘The whole system needs to be revamped’ says retired police officer on policing and judicial system

NIPISSING FIRST NATION— In 2016, the nation was shocked when 12 white jurors in Saskatchewan found Gerald Stanley innocent of shooting and killing Colten Boushie despite testimony that he fired the gun intentionally.

The injustice did not stop there for Colten’s family of Red Pheasant Cree Nation. After his death, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) surrounded Colten’s home to interrogate his mother, Debbie Baptiste. They accused her of drinking when she collapsed with the news that her son had been killed. They entered her home without a warrant and checked the microwave when Baptiste said she had been expecting Colten home for dinner. Police even attended the wake for Colten.

Reacting to a watchdog report finding her family experienced systemic racism by the RCMP, Baptiste stated, “My son is not a criminal.”

The Civilian Review and Complaints Commission (CRCC) for the RCMP found that officers conducted themselves “with such insensitivity that her treatment amounted to discrimination.”

The RCMP has agreed to CRCC’s recommendations including an increase in cultural awareness training.

The day the Boushie family spoke out, George Couchie tweeted, “The whole system from police, hospitals and courts is broken.”

Couchie is a former police officer from Nipissing First Nation. He now runs Redtail Hawk Training and Consulting centred on cultural mindfulness.

“It’s the police. It’s everything. There was a report on the hospital system a few weeks ago, how it needs to be revamped. When you look at policing and the court system, if you’ve ever been into the courtroom, most of the people in the courtroom are Indigenous or mentally ill. People say these kids fell through the system. Really, there is no system for Indigenous youth. The whole system needs to be revamped.”

Asked to comment on CRCC’s 17 recommendations, Couchie highlights one of the first recommendations. It was in 1907, by Dr. P.H. Bryce. He slammed the lack of public health standards in the Residential School system, but his report was buried.

“He was talking about the Residential School system, how they are failing Indigenous people, how the system is failing and that the kids are underfed. Nothing was ever really done.”

Couchie says the main priority must be making people accountable.

“How do we make people accountable? For Indigenous people or any communities, they need to be treated with respect and dignity. And that’s not happening,” he says. “I remember when we were kids, the police would come into our house. They would be without a warrant until finally one of my brothers said, ‘Hey, you guys need a warrant to come in here.’ And that was the last time they ever did.”

“When people aren’t standing up for other people, then that’s the problem. Then people think they can get away with this,” he adds.

Couchie says people ask if the racism is getting better.

“I don’t think that it is. We still have a long way to go. You can bring people in and do all types of training but if you are not going to make them accountable, then why do the training?” he notes. “Even during the pandemic, people still call me and ask if we can do training Zoom-wise. It’s so hard to do that. People have to engage their five senses when doing the training. They have to come into that circle. They have to listen to the people’s stories. They have to take part in ceremonies. That’s how you are going to connect.”

Couchie says society is in such a rush these days.

“I’ve been called many times to go downtown Toronto and finally I stopped going because I knew it was just a checkbox they were doing. They weren’t taking part. They were just getting through it to get that checkmark.”

Couchie recalls a couple of years ago that all of Ontario’s government employees needed to take Native Awareness Training.

“So, they called me but said, ‘We can’t hire you. We can’t expect that everyone’s going to take this two-day training. We need to have it on a video.’”

Couchie told them to find someone who will do that.

“I won’t,” he told them. “Even if officers do take the training, they still need to be held accountable for that training.”

“Sudbury Regional, the last two times I went up to do their training, invited community members to come in to do the training with us. One time, we had 20 officers and 20 community members from Atikameksheng Anishnawbek First Nation. That training was probably the best we ever had because we heard from community members.”

Couchie insists that Indigenous communities need to be treated more respectfully.

“They’re not. It’s atrocious what’s happening. Everybody, from the top down, needs to be trained. And then everything needs to be held accountable. Why did you do that? What were the steps?”

There has been controversy with the provincial police force as well. Recently, the Pikangikum First Nation asked the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) to leave their community.

“It’s a damaged community. One of the officers told me he had gone to the Middle East, serving with the armed forces. And then he became an OPP officer with an appointment in Pikangikum for a couple of years. I asked what was similar between Pikangikum and the Middle East?” he recalls. “He said when he flew into places in the Middle East, the buildings were war-torn and there was garbage all over. ‘When I flew into Pikangikum, I had a flashback of going into the Middle East. Some of the houses were not painted, were falling apart and there was garbage all over the place.’”

George asked what the biggest difference was.

“He said the biggest difference was, ‘When we flew into the Middle East and people saw our shoulder flashes, they were excited. They knew things are going change.’ He said when he flew into Pikangikum, they weren’t excited. They knew that change wasn’t coming. That really bothered him. They said he’d only be here for two years and then somebody else is going to come.”

Couchie does not have details about the expulsion.

“I’m not sure why they chased out the police this time. But the last couple of times, the Chief and Council decided the OPP were not doing a proper job.”

https://anishinabeknews.ca/2021/04/02/t ... al-system/
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