Chief Joe Alphonse, pictured outside the Tletinqox’in band office during the 2017 wildfires, has fought his own battles with awareness surrounding Indigenous issues within the RCMP. Angie Mindus/Williams Lake Tribune file photo

History of systemic racism between RCMP and First Nations must be addressed: B.C. chief

Recent protests spark renewed calls for police reform and healing to move forward

Leaders of the Tsilhqot’in Nation are calling on the Canadian government to address systemic racism within policing, particularly between First Nations and the RCMP.

Tribal Chair Chief Joe Alphonse is calling for change on behalf of six Tsilhqot’in communities, located in B.C.’s Interior, following what he said has been years of trying to get the government’s and RCMP’s attention on the issue.

“We stand in solidarity with the protests against police brutality and racism against black people, Indigenous people and people of colour in the United States and Canada. Our people have been taking a stand against racism for a long time. This is not new, but recent events have provided the opportunity for our people to come forward with their experiences of injustice,” Alphonse stated in a news release.

“During the 2017 wildfires, the RCMP threatened to take our children from our homes when we refused to evacuate our community and stayed to fight the fires ourselves. They failed to understand our Indigenous rights and authority. Further, they failed to understand the sensitivity of communicating in such a manner given our people’s history with residential schools.”

Alphonse said he has been advocating for improved education and training for RCMP since the wildfires and, despite a healing circle with RCMP almost a year later in April 2018, Alphonse said it was apparent there was a lack of understanding about First Nations people in general.

Read More: Amid anti-racism protests, Trudeau promises to push police body cameras with premiers

“How can you understand about residential schools and traumas if you don’t even understand how First Nations became placed on Indian Reserves,” Alphonse added in a phone interview with Black Press Media.

Countless Indigenous people, such as Colten Boushie, Cindy Gladue and Neil Stonechild, have been victims of systemic racism, Alphonse noted.

Recent stories shared include Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation in Fort McMurray who said he was beaten by officers when they had stopped him for an expired license plate outside a casino back in March.

Last week, a young Indigenous woman was killed by police following a wellness check, he noted.

Read More: Indigenous families say their loved ones’ deaths in custody are part of pattern

“There’s been no outcry and somebody has to step up to the plate and start advocating for a better life for First Nations people.”

Alphonse believes more training is needed within the RCMP so police can better identify all the underlying issues, make recommendations and improvement, and from there begin healing, he said.


Do you have a comment about this story? email:
rebecca.dyok@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

IndigenousPoliceracism

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

QUIZ: Are you ready for a summer road trip?

How much do you really know about roads, motor vehicles and car culture? Take this quiz to find out.

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

Summer arrives at Big White Ski Resort

Hiking, bike trails, restaurants and more are open as of July 10

COVID-19 cases identified in Kelowna, after public gatherings

Those who were downtown or at the waterfront from June 25 to July 6 maybe have been exposed to COVID-19.

Pianos return to Kelowna parks

The Pianos in Parks program was postponed amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

COVID-19: Homeless to be relocated from temporary Okanagan shelter

Homeless shelters in Vernon have been combined into one site at the curling rink since April

Dozens of fish die at popular lake near Chase

A few natural phenomena are possible causes for their deaths.

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

RCMP ‘disappointed’ by talk that race a factor in quiet Rideau Hall arrest

Corey Hurren, who is from Manitoba, is facing 22 charges

Most Read