Ahead of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, the RCMP is strengthening its relationship with Westbank First Nation by proving they’re all in the same boat.
Kelowna and West Kelowna RCMP members paddled across Okanagan Lake Thursday afternoon. They were greeted by Westbank First Nation elders who gave them permission to come along the shore.
“It’s a proud moment for me. We started this program in February with all this youth you see. We did identify things that should be done for truth and reconciliation,” said Const. Rohel Williams
with the West Kelowna RCMP.
The Kelowna RCMP say on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation they will be reflecting on the children who survived residential schools and those who did not make it home.
“We recognize the families and communities who were negatively impacted forever, by the legacy of residential schools, our Government, and the role of the RCMP in this history,” said Const. Mike Della-Paolera of the Kelowna RCMP in a release.
Westbank First Nation elders say they acknowledge the part RCMP played in residential schools, adding they are now working with police for further education.
“We have the continuum now and that circle that closes all the time with our Indigenous Policing Services bringing together their wisdom and knowledge with our RCMP non-native personnel,” said Westbank First Nation elder Marion Radawetz.
Westbank First Nation elders say the canoe trip is just one part of their collaboration with West Kelowna RCMP.
“It’s so wonderful to see them producing drums and learning how to canoe, when some of them were probably afraid of the water before the summer began. There are so many important aspects and to just see them together on a trip like this makes all of our hearts feel good as elders,” Radawetz said.
The West Kelowna RCMP wants to commit further effort to Indigenous initiatives in the community and working with the youth is just one way they can do that.
“We are the community. We work with all these kids, they see us all the time, we want them to be comfortable and we want them to be able to talk to us comfortably without having to worry about the police,” said Williams.
Westbank First Nation and the RCMP hope to continue the event again next spring for the third time.
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