First Indigenous person to join the RCMP honoured in B.C.
Edward “Hawk” Kelly Jr. was the first Indigenous person in the history of the force to serve in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, according to an article in the Summerland Review, and was honoured at a special event on June 26. The celebration also marked his 80th birthday, as well as 60 years since he graduated from the RCMP Training Academy, known as “Depot” in 1959.
There are currently about 150 RCMP members across B.C. who hail from First Nations communities, according to the article. More below:
Kelly was sworn in as a member in 1958, and then completed his RCMP training at Depot in 1959, two years after he graduated from Chilliwack secondary.
“I didn’t actually know at the time that I was the first status Indian to serve,” Kelly said. “I just applied for the job that had been my dream job. I always wanted to become a Mountie.”
Nicknamed “Hawk” by his great-grandfather, Kelly said he earned the name because he had sharp eyes like a hawk.
The next day after his graduation from Depot, Kelly boarded a train and headed out to his first posting in Edmonton, to guard cell blocks, before moving on to serve as a constable in the Westblock detachment.
Kelly was an RCMP officer for about five years, in varying roles. He later served as Tzeachten First Nation Chief for two terms, worked for tribal police, and was a park ranger for BC Parks for almost 20 years.
Find more from the article here.