Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes is hopeful that the relationship between the Saanich Police and Indigenous people in the Saanich community can be improved through education and understanding. Haynes feels efforts made by the police will further accomplish their goals toward truth and reconciliation. At the March 9 council meeting, Haynes, chair for the Saanich Police Board, interrupted the meeting to highlight the 2020 BC Association of Police Boards Conference hosted by the Saanich Police and Oak Bay Police on March 5 to 7.
The event hosted four Indigenous women panelists, which Haynes says is an important and key aspect of the event. The Indigenous panelists included Brenda Butterworth Carr, assistant deputy minister and director of police services; Claire marshal, Indigenous member of Vancouver Police Board; Tanya Clarmont, director of management services for the Victoria Native Friendship Centre; and Kim Baird, former Chief for Tsawwassen First Nations.
Haynes started his presentation by showing council a famous painting by Kent Monkman depicting a scene of Royal Canadian Mountie Police and clergy people violently removing Indigenous children from their homes. Haynes believes this speaks to the past relationship between police and Indigenous people.
Haynes feels that the type of approach to policing in the past is a very stressful approach that not only affects Indigenous people in a negative way but also has had negative affects on the well-being of the police.
In response to the recommendations from the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry, the Saanich Police recently established an 11-member Indigenous Advisory Committee under the leadership of Insp. Todd Bryant.
“The Saanich Police Dept. acknowledge that the traditional Canadian colonial policing model has often overlooked Indigenous cultural traditions, and as a result created significant trust and confidence issues with many Indigenous people and their communities,” according to a statement from the Saanich Police to the mayor.
Haynes believes that with the continual efforts of the Saanich Police to consult with the Indigenous community, an outcome can be achieved that is not only better for First Nations but also for the police. “We are committed to doing all that we can to improve the relationship,” Haynes says.
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