Chief Joe Alphonse, pictured outside the Tletinqox’in band office during the 2017 wildfires, has fought his own battles with awareness surrounding Indigenous issues within the RCMP. Angie Mindus/Williams Lake Tribune file photo

Chief Joe Alphonse, pictured outside the Tletinqox’in band office during the 2017 wildfires, has fought his own battles with awareness surrounding Indigenous issues within the RCMP. Angie Mindus/Williams Lake Tribune file photo

History of systemic racism between RCMP and First Nations must be addressed: B.C. chief

Recent protests spark renewed calls for police reform and healing to move forward

Leaders of the Tsilhqot’in Nation are calling on the Canadian government to address systemic racism within policing, particularly between First Nations and the RCMP.

Tribal Chair Chief Joe Alphonse is calling for change on behalf of six Tsilhqot’in communities, located in B.C.’s Interior, following what he said has been years of trying to get the government’s and RCMP’s attention on the issue.

“We stand in solidarity with the protests against police brutality and racism against black people, Indigenous people and people of colour in the United States and Canada. Our people have been taking a stand against racism for a long time. This is not new, but recent events have provided the opportunity for our people to come forward with their experiences of injustice,” Alphonse stated in a news release.

“During the 2017 wildfires, the RCMP threatened to take our children from our homes when we refused to evacuate our community and stayed to fight the fires ourselves. They failed to understand our Indigenous rights and authority. Further, they failed to understand the sensitivity of communicating in such a manner given our people’s history with residential schools.”

Alphonse said he has been advocating for improved education and training for RCMP since the wildfires and, despite a healing circle with RCMP almost a year later in April 2018, Alphonse said it was apparent there was a lack of understanding about First Nations people in general.

Read More: Amid anti-racism protests, Trudeau promises to push police body cameras with premiers

“How can you understand about residential schools and traumas if you don’t even understand how First Nations became placed on Indian Reserves,” Alphonse added in a phone interview with Black Press Media.

Countless Indigenous people, such as Colten Boushie, Cindy Gladue and Neil Stonechild, have been victims of systemic racism, Alphonse noted.

Recent stories shared include Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation in Fort McMurray who said he was beaten by officers when they had stopped him for an expired license plate outside a casino back in March.

Last week, a young Indigenous woman was killed by police following a wellness check, he noted.

Read More: Indigenous families say their loved ones’ deaths in custody are part of pattern

“There’s been no outcry and somebody has to step up to the plate and start advocating for a better life for First Nations people.”

Alphonse believes more training is needed within the RCMP so police can better identify all the underlying issues, make recommendations and improvement, and from there begin healing, he said.


Do you have a comment about this story? email:
rebecca.dyok@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

IndigenousPoliceracism

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Seniors in the Interior Health region can book their COVID-19 vaccinations starting Monday, March 8, 2021 at 7 a.m. (File photo)
Seniors in Interior Heath region can book COVID-19 shots starting Monday

Starting March 8 the vaccination call centre will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily

Interior Health reported 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5. (Black Press Files)
Interior Health reports 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5

Over 300,000 vaccine doses have been administered provincewide.

L-R: The Nelson Skating Club’s Vienna Ferguson, Oceane Cheon and Paisley Jarvis wait for their performance times during the Kootenay Region Virtual Competition on Feb. 20. Photo: Submitted
Nelson Skating Club competes in regional event

The Kootenay Region Virtual Competition was held Feb. 20

Former owner and new manager Cole Johnston holds up the Reo’s sign outside its new location on Hall Street. The video rental store will reopen March 17. Photo: Submitted
Civic Theatre to reopen Reo’s at new location

The theatre has purchased the video rental store

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

During a press event on March 6, Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP, addressed a deadly shooting that occurred in Metchosin the night before. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: One man shot dead on Vancouver Island in ‘targeted incident’

Highway 14 reopens following multi-hour closure for investigation

Personal protective equipment is seen in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
$16.9 million invested to improve worker safety, strengthen B.C.’s food supply chain

Money to be used for social distancing, personal protective equipment, cleaning, and air circulation

Most Read