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Indigenous Awareness Week for Alberta RCMP

Roger Marten, right, Chief of Cold Lake First Nations, and Curtis Monias, centre, Chief of Heart Lake First Nation, -Jan. 30, 2020.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

From May 25 to 28, the Alberta RCMP is celebrating the diversity of Metis, Inuit and First Nations culture through Indigenous Awareness Week.

The celebration of the contribution by Indigenous peoples is a way for the Alberta RCMP to acknowledge a commitment to reconciliation efforts with the communities and cultural leaders in the province.

RCMP say Indigenous Awareness Week is meaningful to officers as it allows reflection of the past along with consideration of the path forward. The Reconciliation Strategy, in consultation with Indigenous communities, includes important things like adopting an eagle feather to swear oaths, increasing restorative justice practices, cultural awareness training for employees, recruiting, youth initiatives, and building upon the Commanding Officer’s Indigenous Advisory Committee.

Adapting to current circumstances, there are no events scheduled for the week, but there has been notable engagement with our Indigenous communities throughout the past year.

All RCMP detachments across Alberta will display Treaty Land Acknowledgement plaques. These plaques will remind staff and community members about the importance of the territory they live on and work in. The RCMP acknowledges that Treaty 6, 7 & 8 territory is the ancestral and traditional territory of many First Nations and M├ętis peoples.

Since fall 2020, the Eagle Feather Protocol offers employees and clients the option to swear legal oaths on an eagle feather at RCMP detachments across the province. In Indigenous culture, the eagle is often considered a sacred symbol of spirituality and is used in many Indigenous traditions and ceremonies throughout North America. At detachments, eagle feathers may also act as a comfort to clients when interacting with employees or providing evidence and statements.

To honour Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG), red dresses are worn or hung outside homes and workplaces across the country. The red dress acts as a symbol of hope. This year, the Alberta RCMP did an online live event for this significant day.

The Siksika Day of Hope was an event organized by Siksika’s Hope Team to draw awareness to mental health. Siksikahas endured a particularly hard year due to losses in their community as a result of overdoses, suicide and general health issues. Due to COVID-19, the community has not able to mourn in their traditional manner.