More than a dozen Indigenous groups in the Fraser Valley have partnered with the RCMP as part of an agreement to bring more safety, communication and policing services to their communities.
The Community Safety Agreement was finalized after months of meetings with 14 Fraser Valley First Nations communities and the RCMP.
“Leading a grass roots initiative takes guts, trust, efficacy, tenacity, with focus and an open mind for a better life for our people, for all people,” said Chief James Hobart of Spuzzum First Nation. “I’m extremely proud of our assemblage and what we have accomplished. Kʷukʷstemc, Hromtik’en Kwakosen.”
Prior to this agreement, of the 24 First Nations communities served by the Upper Fraser Valley Regional Detachment (UFVRD), 15 had no agreement with the RCMP concerning policing services and the cultural expectations of the individual communities, according to Friday’s (March 5) RCMP release.
In 2018, Cpl. Chris Gosselin and Supt. Bryon Massie, the Officer-in-Charge of the UFVRD RCMP, became aware of the need to engage Indigenous communities not served by Community Tri-Partite Agreements (CTA).
For months, the RCMP and a committee of four First Nations chiefs representing the 15 communities – Chief James Hobart (Spuzzum), Chief Maurine Chapman (Skwahlook), Chief Derek Epp (Tzeachten) and Chief Mark Point (Skowkale) – worked to iron out gaps in service and formally outline what the First Nations expected from the police. Fourteen of the 15 affected communities endorsed an agreement.
“In the spirit of truth and reconciliation, this agreement solidifies our commitment to one another to provide safe Indigenous communities,” said Cpl. Gosselin who oversees the first Urban Indigenous Policing Section in B.C. for the RCMP.
Together, with Const. Jaden Courtney, the team delivers enhanced Indigenous policing services to Indigenous communities on behalf of the UFVRD.
“The successful creation and adoption of this partnership, stems from our desire to ensure that the needs of Indigenous communities are not only heard but are delivered,” Supt. Bryon Massie said. “It demonstrates our commitment to work together to improve communication, enhance public safety and provide high quality service to the Indigenous communities within the UFVRD.”
“We were given a clear mandate from our membership to build a relationship with the RCMP that consists of trust, communication and prevention,” said Chief Derek Epp of Tzeachten First Nation. “I believe the collaborative approach that went into developing the Community Safety Agreement has achieved this mandate from our membership. This type of agreement can be considered best practice for First Nations across this province.”
Chief Hobart expressed thanks to the 14 communities involved.
“We humbly hold our hands up to you for the trust that you placed in us. We are proud to represent our communities,” he said.
Chief Chapman said she’s “proud” of the work accomplished.
“We remained focused on the wellbeing of our communities and committed to an honest and respectful working relationship with our partners in the RCMP,” she said.
The communities involved in this agreement include Members of both Stó:lō Nation and Nlaka`pamux Nation.