First Nations in Bella Bella call for removal of RCMP officer over social media posts

Click to play video: 'Heiltsuk First Nation protest RCMP officer conduct'
Heiltsuk First Nation protest RCMP officer conduct
First Nations in the tiny central coast community of Bella Bella rallied outside their RCMP detachment Friday afternoon - calling for the removal of one its officers. As John Hua reports, it centers around offensive social media posts made years ago. – May 24, 2024

Members of the Heiltsuk Nation have come together to stand against what they say is a threat within the RCMP detachment in Bella Bella.

“People felt like they didn’t want to call the RCMP, they’re hesitant to call the RCMP,” Marilyn Slett, Elected Chief of the Heiltsuk First Nation told Global News.

“It leads to mistrust, you know, of the RCMP.”

The mistrust stems from social media posts discovered on Facebook under the name Adrian Rubenstein.

“These posts were unacceptable and absolutely racist,” Slett said.

In the small community, it did not take long for people to learn Rubenstein’s true identity, Const. Adrian Robinson of the Bella Bella RCMP.

“Our community was feeling some fear obviously, with having an RCMP with these types of racist attitudes,” Slett added.

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Click to play video: 'Terrace woman critical of RCMP for delayed arrest'
Terrace woman critical of RCMP for delayed arrest

Posts that have been since taken down show Robinson in costume paired with inappropriate remarks towards Jehovah’s Witnesses and people of colour.

One profile picture from 2014 features Robinson in a period military costume sitting behind the Union Jack.

Below he comments: “Now, what’s to be done about these pesky natives stirring up trouble in the colonies…?”

Slett said it does not matter when these posts were made.

“Whether or not these posts were made yesterday, last week, or 10 years ago, he had them on his Facebook publicly for everybody to see,” she said.

The Heiltsuk Nation claims time has kept the RCMP from launching a code of conduct investigation that would automatically take Robinson off active duty.

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RCMP said in a statement that because the posts were made before he joined the force they are committed to finding the “right balance between addressing the concerns through a fair process and the importance of individuals/community having trust and confidence in their police officers and the RCMP.”

Click to play video: 'Community leaders gather for anti-Asian racism forum'
Community leaders gather for anti-Asian racism forum

Slett said they asked the question about the vetting process and why these posts were not flagged during screening.

The Heilstuk Nation says it has been told a transfer is underway but could take up to 90 days.

Robinson will continue to serve the community under the supervision of another officer.

“It puts the onus on the community to say we’re not going to accept this,” Slett said.

“We’re not going to, we’re not going to accept racism in our community.”

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Leaders said this renews calls to collaborate with the RCMP when it comes to hiring, as the fact that this process has to be held is a failure by the RCMP to protect this community from past and current trauma and ongoing harm.

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