Watch the video above: Aboriginal police recruits reach all time high in Saskatoon
SASKATOON – The Saskatoon Police Service, dignitaries and RCMP attended SIAST’s Aboriginal Police Preparation Program graduation on Friday in Saskatoon.
Jazmyne Black was honoured to graduate from the program. Her dad was an RCMP officer and she hopes to follow in his footsteps.
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“Because of him, it inspired me to become somebody like him. He has a good head on his shoulders and he’s very knowledgeable. He just makes me feel determined to be a better person,” she explained.
Officers like Black’s dad helped to pave the way for future generations.
Ernie Louttit is a retired officer from the Saskatoon Police Service, he joined the force in 1987.
“When I first started with Saskatoon police, I was the third native officer, and there was an old boys’ club. And they didn’t want to work with women, they didn’t want to work with natives,” said Louttit.
He also encountered backlash from the aboriginal community.
“It was both ways, so a lot of native people would call me an ‘apple’ – like I was red on the outside and white on the inside, and that I was betraying my people by being a police officer,” Louttit explained.
Several decades later, Saskatoon police not only embraces diversity, but says it’s essential.
“It helps our officers understand the diversity, understand the culture, and hopefully come up with some solutions to some of the issues we’ve had historically,” said police chief Clive Weighill.
Saskatoon police has joined forces with several groups around the province to form the Saskatchewan Police Aboriginal Recruiting Committee.
“We’re up now to about 11 per cent composition of either First Nations or Métis, so that’s come up from about four or five per cent beginning at the year 2000,” said Weighill.
The Saskatoon Police Service says it’s not easy for anyone to become an officer and that its rigorous application process catches many applicants off-guard. But those with the right skills and determination make it through.
The service hopes 16 per cent of its force will be aboriginal by 2020.