In Canada’s far North, the RCMP doesn’t just dish out justice.
As part of the Inuvik detachment’s ongoing community engagement efforts, once a week police officers join in the East Three Elementary breakfast club, delivering a hot breakfast to the students of both the elementary and secondary sections.
“I have been posted to Inuvik for about six months and, since I arrived here, we have been participating in the Breakfast Program at the East Three Schools,” said Const. Savannah O’Connor. “Once a week when we attend either the Elementary or the High school (sometimes both!) and assist with the Breakfast Program.
“The school Breakfast Program helps to ensure that all students have the opportunity to start their day with a nutritious meal. It gives me a lot of pride to see the students’ faces when we deliver their breakfast to them.”
It’s all part of a more holistic approach to community policing, which in Inuvik has included showing children how to conduct investigations into cookie heists to bystander intervention training and even bike rodeos in conjunction with the town’s municipal enforcement department.
Detachment commander Sgt. Jesse Aubin said the bystander intervention training was popular enough the department was preparing a class for adults.
“It all goes back to Sir Robert Peel - ‘The police are the community, the community are the police.’ We can’t operate effectively unless we’re a part of the community. That’s what we’re striving to do with these initiatives — to make sure that we are part of the community not just as police officers but as as citizens of the town of Inuvik.
“That’s extremely important, not only for us but for the public so that they’re comfortable talking to us, comfortable reporting things to the police, to being witnesses and those types of things. It’s a two way relationship.
“We can’t just hide behind the police car all the time. We need to be out and engaging and being part of the community.”
Because police officers are frequently moved from community to community every so often, the Inuvik detachment has a mentoring system to pass the torch when new officers come up to Inuvik.
Aubin added as a courtesy to drivers in town that police were planning for traffic enforcement to keep the streets safe for Inuvik’s youth and Elders.
Equally important in the RCMP’s outreach, noted Aubin, was enabling youth to see themselves in policing positions.
“We attended the college career fair and a couple of members sat there with a little recruitment booth,” he said. “That’s an important connection, a positive way that the community can see us and hopefully get young people of Inuvik interested in a career with the RCMP.
“That’s a priority for us, recruiting not just people from the North, but Indigenous candidates as well, and there’s no better way to do that than a place like Inuvik — there are lots of youth here and they’re interested, hopefully in pursuing a career with policing.”
For O’Connor, helping out and giving back to the community just goes with the territory.
She expressed her gratitude to the school for allowing her to participate.
“It is very important to us to promote positive police interactions with youth in the community and it is also a lot of fun for us attending the Breakfast Program,” she said. “I’m very thankful to Shayna who organizes the breakfast program for allowing us to be a part of it and also to the East Three Elementary and Secondary Schools for welcoming us into their schools.”