Indigenous RCMP camp returns to West Kelowna, B.C. high school

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Indigenous Cop camp returns to West Kelowna school
Indigenous Cop camp returns to West Kelowna school – May 26, 2023

Over a dozen students from Mt Boucherie Secondary School (MBSS), in West Kelowna B.C., are gearing up for an RCMP Recruiting Indigenous Cop Camp this weekend.

According to organizers, the goal of the camp is building better relationships between RCMP and Indigenous communities, while boosting recruitment of Indigenous people.

“I think it’s super, super important that our Indigenous people’s relationships with RCMP are healed,” said MBSS Indigenous Advocate Nicole Rishaug.

“This is the best way to have our Indigenous students being involved in becoming RCMP officers here in Canada and kind of mending that relationship.”

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Both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students from grades 10-12 were invited to take part in the three-day long overnight camp.

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West Kelowna Indigenous Policing Section will lead students through different learning activities and demonstrations throughout the weekend.

“[Friday’s] a lot of classroom stuff, they’ll get into seeing the dog and interacting with the dog and the dog guy. They will go on the canoes, the traditional Indigenous canoes that they have at their detachment,” said Rishaug.

“They’ll bring out the police vehicles, they’ll do show them their weapons – and they’ll let them handle some of the things and put shields on and things like that.”

Rishaug went on to say that the biggest takeaway from this weekend however is the connections that are made during camp.

“They’re not all friends, but by Sunday night, they are 100 per cent a bonded group,” she said. “Some of them are friends for life. That’s the coolest part about camp is that they have these friendships that they didn’t expect.”

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When asked what Grade 12 Student Darius Cardinal was looking forward to the most about camp, he had this to say.

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“I am looking forward to the dog, I can’t wait to throw the suit on and just go to town with the dog,” said Cardinal. “Also just hanging out with everyone and meeting new people cause I’m always interested in meeting new friends.”

Grade 12 student Xavier Robinson, now in his second year of the program, echoed that he is also excited to meet new friends and build connections.

“I was so excited the first year and I wanted to do it the second time – I’ve definitely been considering becoming an RCMP officer, as a couple of the constables from last year were very impressed with my work I did last year,” said Robinson.

“Connecting with all of the troop mates here, at the beginning it was really awkward with everyone then near the end of the weekend we were all really connected with each other and some of it did stay until now.”

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Meanwhile, Grade 12 student Isaiah Smallboy added that he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take part in the camp.

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“I thought it was going to be a fun experience. I am in grade 12, so you only get to do a few things once in your life so I thought, you know what, why not,” said Smallboy. “I’m going to regret not doing that when I’m older.  I’ll look back on these memories and say this was a good weekend.”

Meanwhile staff say the camp is more than just hands-on training for the students.

“To kind of be away from their comfort zone, it’s three days, they’re building new relationships, they’re building some resiliency, they’re getting new experiences, they’re having to abide by pretty strict schedule, take orders, that kind of thing,” said Rishaug. “I think it’s, it’s really awesome for them.”

Rishaug says that the camp has been successful so far and will hopefully return to the school next year.

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