Nunavut RCMP plan recruitment program for Inuit officers

An ambitious program aimed at Nunavut high school graduates aims to recruit more Inuit police officers to the RCMP, but program organizers are facing an uphill battle to gain interest in the profession.

Sergeant Merle Carpenter says RCMP last hired an Inuit officer over 8 years ago

Sergeant Merle Carpenter discusses the new Inuit Cadet Development Program at RCMP V division headquarters in Iqaluit. Carpenter says that the RCMP haven't hired an Inuit officer for over 8 years. (CBC)

Nunavut RCMP are looking for more Inuit police officers, and have launched an ambitious program aimed at growing the number of Inuit in law enforcement.

Taught in Iqaluit, the Inuit Cadet Development Program is aimed at Nunavut high school graduates. The 8-month course would be taught like a boot camp, shaping students physically and mentally, while taking courses related to policing.

"The last time we hired an Inuit officer was over 8 years ago," said RCMP Sergeant Merle Carpenter, who helped create the program, which is being held jointly with the Nicola Valley Insitute of Technology in British Columbia.

"The curriculum is relevant," says Aruna Gore, Nicola Valley's associate dean. "It has to be relevant to the needs of the community, or else you won't have students buy into it."

The program won't guarantee that a student becomes an RCMP officer — they still have to pass the entrance exam and do the RCMP course of study — but any credits earned while taking courses are transferrable to other institutions. Carpenter, who is originally from Sachs Harbour, says not all graduates will go on to become RCMP officers, but the coursework will help them find work in related professions, such as court bailiffs.

Tough sell

Aruna Gore, Associate Dean of the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology. The Cadet Program has been developed in association with the Institute. (CBC)
Carpenter and Gore are still seeking funding for the project, and say they are getting plenty of interest from officials at multiple levels of government, and even private organizations. 

"We gotta get all those partners together and make this work," says Carpenter, who is hoping the program will begin in September fo 2016, if funding falls into place.

However, drumming up interest among potential recruits has proved to be a trickier proposition. Nobody attended an information session held Thursday in Iqaluit. 

Carpenter mentioned competition for employees as a potential recruitment problem, saying that many young Inuit who could have given the RCMP a try end up being enticed away by lucrative jobs in the mining industry. 

For any Nunavut high school students who are interested, Carpenter says they can talk to Iqaluit Constables Henry Coman and David Aglukark. Coman and Aglukark are willing to talk to any students coming towards the end of their schooling, as well as those who might not have the necessary grades.