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New commander for Hay River RCMP; 'It just seemed like a nice place to be'

Sgt. Kurtis Pillipow is the new commander of the Hay River RCMP Detachment.
Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

The RCMP Detachment in Hay River has a new commander.

Sgt. Kurtis Pillipow, a 19-year veteran of the RCMP, began his new duties on Aug. 17 after two weeks of self-isolation because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"I identified an interest in coming here, specifically to Hay River, and I find myself here now," he said.

"What attracted me here was I have a young family and I've heard great things about this community and the opportunity for children and families, and a good school system," he added. "And it just seemed like a nice place to be."

Pillipow brings with him a wide range of experience, including previously serving in the North and in a First Nations community.

His first posting was in the small town of Rossburn, Manitoba, followed by time in the isolated First Nations community of Shamattawa in northern Manitoba.

From there, he moved to the headquarters of Manitoba's 'D' Division of the RCMP, where he worked with the high-risk offenders unit, the major crimes unit and then the serious crimes unit.

After that, he was posted to Ross River, Yukon, and then Rimbey, Alberta.

Hay River will be his third detachment as commander, along with Ross River and Rimbey.

Pillipow believes some of his past experiences in the RCMP will help in Hay River.

"I come with some perspective and don't have to learn how to work in a Northern environment," he said, adding he also has experience working with First Nations.

"However, if I might add that in the RCMP we strive to treat everyone with dignity and respect, no matter what the community is or regardless of what their background is or who they are or what group they belong to," he said. "So as long as we do that then we'll do OK."

Pillipow noted his Northern experience has also taught him how to deal with cold weather, snow and bugs.

The 41-year-old is originally from central Manitoba.

"I grew up in a small rural community and I just have memories of the RCMP and how the RCMP played a meaningful role in the community," he said. "And at a young age I thought that what I wanted to do when I got older, when I grew up, was to help people."

That, along with a desire to work in an environment that was challenging and rewarding and provided a lot of opportunity, led to his career with the RCMP.

Pillipow said the RCMP has "most certainly" lived up to his goals for a career.

The sergeant said he has begun the process of meeting community leaders and partners.

"I'm still trying to familiarize myself with the new division, the new detachment and the new community," he said. "So I'm hoping to just have an understanding of the community and the community needs, if not the specific organization that I'm meeting with. Just to have a little bit more clarity of what the RCMP's role and the community expectations of the RCMP are in the community."

Pillipow noted that some priorities have previously been identified, such as substance abuse and road safety.

"Those are things I'd like to address," he said. "We live and work in a dynamic environment, so we will just have to adjust our service delivery to satisfy not just the needs of the community, but the needs of the territory and the needs of individual people."