Written by Dominique Houle on 22/05/12
It’s Aboriginal Awareness Week and nothing says raising awareness about Aboriginal cultures like raising a tipi!! This is exactly what I had the chance to help with last week, when members of National Aboriginal Policing Services (NAPS) were putting up a traditional tipi at RCMP National Headquarters in Ottawa. As if that wasn’t cool enough, this activity also gave me the opportunity to chat with RCMP officers, including Cst. David Aglukark who told me about an interesting program called the Aboriginal Community Constable (ACC).
ACCs are men and women that come from Aboriginal communities and reserves all across Canada. “So they are local people”, David said, “they grew up in those areas, were trained as ACCs and then brought back” to their home towns to engage and build positive relationships with “people they already know”. Moreover, ACCs speak the languages of the people they are policing, which is a huge advantage because often English (and/or French) is a second language in Aboriginal communities. David actually told me that sometimes “somebody would call the police services for information but would just hang up when the person at the other end answered the phone in English, because the caller couldn’t speak it very well”.
And you know what, we can probably all relate to that kind of situation where we’re not very comfortable talking to someone we don’t know. Take police officers for instance – a lot of people are hesitant to ask them anything because we often think: “If the police are around, something bad must have happened”. But when you realize that an officer is just like you and I, has a family, lives in your neighborhood, etc., suddenly it’s not as hard to approach them. And that’s exactly what the ACC program hopes to achieve. Sometimes, “you’ll see youth thinking: Hey look, he’s a First Nation, he speaks the language, and he’s become a police officer. I can do that too!” said David.
Projects like the ACC are just one of the many ways for us to recognize that Aboriginal cultures and contributions are important, necessary and should be celebrated! So this Aboriginal Awareness Week, let’s see what else we can all learn about this wonderful culture!
DEAL.org: Aboriginal Awareness Week
DEAL.org: Happy Nunavut Day!
DEAL.org: It’s Aboriginal Awareness Week!
DEAL.org: Reaching Out – a Lifetime Later
RCMP: Aboriginal Community Constable
Parks Canada: Aboriginal Awareness Week 2012