Blue Line

Features Editor’s Commentary
A year of learning and reflection

November 29, 2021  By Brittani Schroeder

In September, Canada recognized the first National Day of Truth and Reconciliation after generations of injustice against First Nations peoples and their children. After the discovery of the remains of 215 children at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in May, thousands more have been detected at many other former residential school sites. One of my main focuses for this final issue of 2021 was First Nations policing, and I had the opportunity to speak with several people on the importance of this topic. Having grown up in Brantford, Ont., home to one of the very first federally-funded residential schools, the Mohawk Institute Residential School, it was my personal goal this year to educate myself more on the Indigenous history of Canada, and also the horrific role residential schools played.

Deputy Chief Constable Fiona Wilson took on a similar personal goal this year. Taking part in the Pulling Together Canoe Journey this summer, Wilson learned of the traditions and customs of several host nations, including Skwxwú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation), xʷməθkʷəy̓ əm (Musqueam), Katzie, Lílwat, Cree, Anishinaabe, Kwakiutl and Tahltan. During 2021, she wanted to take the time to hear firsthand the stories and impacts of intergenerational trauma from residential school survivors. Throughout the journey, Wilson learned ways to better support Indigenous peoples through her role in law enforcement. Read about her experience on pages 24 – 25.

I recently had a conversation with Treaty Three Police Chief Kai Liu where I learned of the significance of Indigenous policing and what the new Community Safety and Policing Act could mean for those working with Indigenous communities in Ontario. The events of this year have sparked a long overdue dialogue in this country, and I am honoured to be able to share a part of it in this issue. You can read the full interview with Chief Liu on pages 10 – 11.

Chris Lewis also shares his thoughts on the struggle Indigenous police services face in our Back of the Book column on page 30. As he so aptly states, “There should never be ‘have’ and ‘have not’ communities when it comes to policing.”

It was my personal goal this year to educate myself more on the Indigenous history of Canada, and also the horrific role residential schools played.

Another topic I’ve been very passionate about learning more on over the last few months is diversity in policing. October was Women’s History Month, and I had a conversation with Supt. Treena MacSween of the Hamilton Police Service in an episode of Blue Line, The Podcast focused on increasing gender diversity in the law enforcement profession. MacSween has made it a personal and professional mission to attract more women to law enforcement and she let me know how she wants to do it. You can find a short excerpt from the podcast on page 8, and hear the full podcast on our Blue Line website.

Also in October, I had the pleasure of attending and emceeing my first Blue Line Expo at the Paramount EventSpace in Vaughan, Ont. and handing out this year’s Blue Line awards, the Rookie of the Year award and the Lifetime in Law Enforcement Achievement award, to two very deserving law enforcement members. After almost two years of visiting virtual events, it was a great feeling to once again meet people in person, visit all the exhibitor booths and learn more about some hot topics from law enforcement industry experts. You can read more about Blue Line Expo on page 20.

Now, as we reach December and many of us are preparing for the busy holiday season, I hope we can all move into 2022 with open minds and a willingness to learn. If I have discovered anything this year, it’s that we have so much to learn from those around us. I would also like to thank you all for your continued support of Blue Line throughout 2021 and I am looking forward to what next year will bring. Happy holidays to you, your family and the communities you serve.

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