Edmonton police recognized for work with Indigenous community

The Edmonton Police Service received the Wolf Award recognizing its efforts to improve harmony between cultures and races.

'We're not perfect as a police service obviously, but we'll keep trying'

Edmonton police Chief Rod Knecht and Heather Acres, founder and chair of the Wolf Project.

The Edmonton Police Service received a national award Wednesday that was once bestowed upon Nelson Mandela.

The Wolf Award, which recognizes efforts to improve harmony between cultures and races, was presented to the EPS  for the work of its Indigenous Relations Unit and the Oskayak Police Academy.

"I was told this is the first time a police service has gotten this award," said Chief Rod Knecht. "We're extremely humbled by this and thank you very much.

"We still have a way to go; we have flaws in what we do; we're not perfect as a police service obviously, but we'll keep trying.

"I'm a little taken aback by this, but thank you very much."
Chief Rod Knecht accepts the Wolf Award at a ceremony at police headquarters Wednesday. (CBC News)

The Indigenous Relations Unit seeks to build and maintain relations between the city, Indigenous people and organizations that serve them.

The Oskayak Police Academy is a program that brings Indigenous youth from around Alberta to work alongside Edmonton police officers.

'A powerful symbol'

The award includes a statue of a howling wolf.

"It's a powerful symbol," said Heather Acres, founder and chair of the Wolf Project. "When a wolf howls she's announcing an invitation for other wolves to join in with howls.

"Wolves we know are highly social animals and they serve as a reminder to us that survival depends on collaboration together."

Former South Africa president Nelson Mandela was presented with the award in South Africa for promoting equality of races.