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. Indigenous Awareness Week is meaningful to the RCMP as it allows reflection of the past along with consideration of the path forward.
“Our Reconciliation Strategy, in consultation with our 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,” the RCMP stated.
Adapting to current circumstances, there are no events scheduled for the week by the RCMP, but there has been notable engagement with our Indigenous communities throughout the past year:
Treaty Land Acknowledgment plaques – 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 Métis peoples.
Eagle Feather Protocol – 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.
MMIWG – Every May 5th, red dresses are worn or hung outside homes and workplaces across the country. The red dress acts as a symbol of hope. Its purpose is to raise awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG). This year, the Alberta RCMP did an online live event for this significant day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2oawI4KMBfI.
The “Siksika Day of Hope –Honouring Life”– The 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.
“In June, we will be celebrating National Indigenous Peoples Day across Canada,” the RCMP stated. “Listening to our communities, increasing awareness, and celebrating diversity is part of a path forward in the important relationship with the Indigenous people in Alberta.”