Cooper was piped into council chamber with members of the service in attendance along with the mayor, councillors, emergency services personnel, the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN), the Saskatoon Tribal Council, elders, and Cooper’s friends and colleagues.
With Judge Gerald Albright officiating, Cooper recited the Saskatoon Police Service oath and signed off to a standing ovation.
With 30 years experience, more than five at the helm of the Prince Albert Police Service, Cooper plans to build on the work already underway by bringing culture into the organization in new ways.
“Whether that’s through recruitment and broader strategies around recruitment or culture or simply including Indigenous women in some decision making,” Cooper said in reference to the missing and murdered Indigenous women file.
Speaking in Cree sporadically throughout his address and a Métis himself, Cooper is being embraced by the local Indigenous community.
“I’m honoured it is one of our people that is now the chief of police,” said elder Nora Cummings, who has lived in Saskatoon her whole life.
Cummings said while growing up her elders were afraid of police because of past interactions related to residential schools.
Cooper’s ancestry holds significance for Cummings.
“For our children and our young people, they should be proud and honoured to see this. And not only that (Cooper) is a role model.”
“I’m reluctant to talk about my own status because I obviously walk through the world as a white male,” Cooper said.
Nonetheless, Cooper believes his roots will serve him well in the role during a time of high racial tensions in the province.
“This uniform is our standard but we are all individuals informed by our backgrounds and that’s good news to me because we can provide culture to officers, we can provide training and we can influence bias,” Cooper said.
The celebration and tone of his installment, reflects what Mayor Charlie Clark calls “a momentous day for Saskatoon.”