PRINCE ALBERT – Six months after being created, a group of special advisors to Prince Albert Police Service Chief of Police Jonathan Bergen is making inroads towards truth and reconciliation.
The Prince Albert Police Service Women’s Commission has finished its review of the final report from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and Calls to Justice for police agencies. It looked at PAPS achievements and the areas where more work is needed. Elder Liz Settee, chair of the commission, said she wasn’t aware of all the good work being done behind the scenes at Prince Albert Police Service.
“The work we see publicly is just a portion of the work that is happening to respond to the Calls to Justice and actively focus on truth and reconciliation," said Settee.
The woman’s group works with the Prince Albert Police Service and includes local leaders in fields such as addictions, mental health and wellness, Indigenous tradition, gender and sexual diversity, and supports for victims of trauma and violence. PAPS Police Chief Jonathan Bergen and Deputy Chief Farica Prince are working with the group.
“We have been participating in discussions regarding building relationships with police services and community,” said Diana Wooden.
It’s encouraging the Prince Albert police chief and deputy chief are willing to make changes and grow as an organization, said Wooden.
“It is evident that the leadership of the police service is interested in how we as a community can bridge gaps and have meaningful conversations that lead to positive outcomes and better relationships.”
PAPS has been encouraging diversity within its ranks through a new Equity, Diversity and Inclusion committee, and working on the national Canadian Chiefs of Police EDI committee. They have been strengthening relationships with local community leaders and have added orange epaulettes to their police uniforms in recognition of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. In addition, they continue to recruit police members who represent the community through mentoring partnerships with the Prince Albert Grand Council and Métis Nation – Saskatchewan.
PAPS Chaplain Nora Vedress co-chairs the women’s commission and said every voice at the table brings a different perspective.
“This is a group of people who are committed to our community, the safety of our youth and elders, and the wellbeing of our incredible police officers,” said Vedress.
PAPS Women’s Commission member Jennifer Lenny said she hopes to bring a voice for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community and continue to help build positive relationships between the 2SLGBTQIA+ community and the police.
“According to statistics on hate crimes and violence, 2SLGBTQIA+ Canadians continue to face harassment and physical attacks and represent the third largest category after race and religion,” she said.
Gina Martin said she is inspired by the diversity of the group that represents human services, law enforcement, First Nations organizations, and the community.
“By collaborating at a community level, we can monumentally inspire equality, create cultural safety and promote healing within our city,” said Martin.
Robin Poliszuk said the group is helping create trust between the community and police and are, “creating ripples of positive change to support the wellness of our police service and broader community.”
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