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Quebec provincial police withdraw from Nunavik

June 5, 2024  By Cedric Gallant, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Nunatsiaq News


June 5, 2024, Nunavik, Que. – As of June 5, Nunavik Police Service is back to policing independently in Quebec’s northern villages.

Sureté du Québec, the provincial police force, provided staffing support to Nunavik starting in March 2021.

“In the midst of COVID, police bodies in Quebec were all short-staffed,” said Jean-François Morin, deputy chief of operations for the service in a video call interview.

The national police school of Quebec had closed its doors temporarily, which affected the arrival of new officers. When it opened again, the school also cut back on the number of graduates.

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“There were a lot less candidates coming from the schools,” said Morin.

And for the students who did graduate, he said, Nunavik was “at the bottom of the list.”

At times, there were as many as 38 Quebec provincial police officers in Nunavik.

To close the staffing gap, Nunavik Police Service trained potential employees at the RCMP depot in Regina, Sask. There, future police officers are trained intensively for six months from scratch. Those who signed on with Nunavik’s police service were employed immediately after completing training.

More than 30 employees currently working for Nunavik Police Service are graduates of that school, which is vetted by the national police school of Quebec.

“We were able to get our head out of the water with the new influx of staff,” said Morin.

The service is also changing its schedule to a two-week rotation for police officers. Currently, four of the 14 Nunavik communities have this setup.

According to Morin, this new system ensures a police officer is awake and ready for calls at all times of the day.

He used Akulivik as an example, where the new schedule is in place.

Before, one police officer was at the station after 5 p.m. with a partner on call at home. Now, police officers do 12-hour shifts on a two-week rotation schedule.

Ideally, Morin said, he wants at least two police officers at the station at all times, all year, for all communities. To make this work, he needs 170 officers.

Currently, there are 109 active police officers in Nunavik. By January 2025, Morin said the service should meet the staffing threshold he wants.

“Our police officers are more relaxed,” Morin said of the schedule change.

“People are going to notice how calmer, more ready police officers are going to be.”

The goals now are to offer police services as efficient as what’s available in the south and hire more Inuit officers. But Morin reflected on how much has changed since 25 years ago, when Nunavik police first came to the region.

“I have been here for 23 years,” Morin said.

“The difference between my first day and today, it is two worlds.”


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