First Nation in Bella Bella says RCMP officer transferred over social media posts

Click to play video: 'Heiltsuk First Nation protest RCMP officer conduct'
Heiltsuk First Nation protest RCMP officer conduct
RELATED VIDEO: 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 centres around offensive social media posts made years ago – May 24, 2024

The Heiltsuk Nation says the RCMP officer who was at the centre of attention in the small community of Bella Bella has been transferred.

Const. Adrian Robinson has been transferred out of the community, the Heiltsuk Nation announced Thursday morning.

“He will be leaving the community this weekend, and from now until his departure, will not be working another shift in Bella Bella,” Heiltsuk Nation staff said in a release.

The controversy lies with old social media posts discovered on Facebook under the name Adrian Rubenstein.

In the small community, it did not take long for people to learn Rubenstein’s true identity.

“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 about a week ago.

Story continues below advertisement

“It leads to mistrust, you know, of the RCMP. These posts were unacceptable and absolutely racist.”

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 news of the RCMP member’s departure comes about a week after the Heiltsuk went public with the posts.

Click to play video: 'Tsleil-Waututh Nation hold Red Dress Day ceremony'
Tsleil-Waututh Nation hold Red Dress Day ceremony

“It is unfortunate that the RCMP did not prevent this officer from serving in Bella Bella in the first place,” said Hemas Harvey Humchitt, a hereditary chief of the Heiltsuk Nation.

Story continues below advertisement

“But our community’s voice is powerful and effective in pushing for change. Our joint leadership is grateful for the passion, resilience and sense of justice of our community members, and looks forward to fighting for the better policing that our community deserves.”

Dozens of Heiltsuk Nation members gathered at the front of the RCMP detachment in Bella Bella last Friday for a protest.

“We want to thank our community for reporting the racist Facebook posts and for raising their voices against racism and calling for accountability,” Slett said.

“Together, we will continue to stand up and fight for the elimination of racism and colonialism in the RCMP, so that one day, they may truly be a police force that will protect and serve our community.”

The Nation claimed the RCMP did not launch a code of conduct investigation that would automatically take Robinson off active duty.

The RCMP said in a statement that because the posts were made before Robinson joined the force, the department is 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.”

The Heilstuk Nation previously said it was told a transfer was underway but could take up to 90 days. It took only six days.

Story continues below advertisement

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

Nation 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.

The BC RCMP confirmed the officer’s transfer Thursday morning.

“The member was scheduled to be transferred shortly as per their posting agreement and their status is being continually assessed,” Cpl. Madonna Saunderson said.

“We are mindful that the movement or loss of a single officer in that community will impact public safety response, service delivery and officer safety requirements.”

Click to play video: 'Family calls for changes after mother’s death while in White Rock police custody'
Family calls for changes after mother’s death while in White Rock police custody

— with files from Global News’ John Hua


Sponsored content