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Yukon RCMP 'does practice systemic racism in some form,' says superintendent

National conversations about systemic racism in policing have given RCMP Supt. Chan Daktari Dara cause to reflect on what that means for the RCMP in Yukon.

RCMP Supt. Chan Daktari Dara says ‘there's always room for more improvement’

Dara feels the relationship between Indigenous communities and the RCMP in the Yukon is 'very good,' especially compared to other places he’s worked in Canada. (Radio-Canada/Claudiane Samson)

National conversations about systemic racism in policing have given RCMP Supt. Chan Daktari Dara cause to reflect on what that means for the RCMP in Yukon.

"There are processes, procedures and policies in place and even legislation that I find that make us, you know, a people or an organization that does practice systemic racism in some form," said Dara on CBC's Airplay.

RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki said last week she believes systemic racism exists in the police force, backtracking on earlier comments she made and contradicting the RCMP's commanding officer in Alberta, who denies there is systemic racism in policing in Canada.

When talking about systemic racism in Yukon, Dara gave the example of how vulnerable people are treated in Whitehorse, like "the people that you see sometimes in and around the shelter of Whitehorse."

RCMP has practices in place to work in conjunction with other government agencies but once people become violent, health and social services can no longer help.

"At that point, they call the RCMP to come," Dara said. 

In most cases, he said, they're intoxicated and under the RCMP policies and procedures, the police try to find somewhere they can go to sober up. 

A lot of times, though, they have nowhere to go. 

"For their own safety, we bring them to the arrest processing unit here in Whitehorse, basically to jail, for them to sober up. Now I ask you this question, is this really beneficial to their healing process? To the healing process of our most vulnerable population? I would think not. I think we could do better in this situation."

'Policing is different' outside Whitehorse

The relationship between the RCMP and the people of Whitehorse is more strained than it is in the rest of the territory, Dara said.

"Policing is different ... in the communities outside Whitehorse, our members have a lot more time to really engage themselves and be a part of the community in a fulsome way, whether it be coaching sports, whether it be attending high school graduations and meeting with parents and breaking bread with the community on a regular basis."

Shirley Kakfwi of Old Crow, Yukon, makes beaded name tags for local RCMP officers. Cpl. Pat Russell, the detachment commander, says it's about making connections and showing 'fondness' for working with the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation. (RCMP/Facebook)

In Whitehorse, there are more calls for service with the police, leaving them with less time to do community policing like they do outside the city.

That said, Dara feels the relationship between Indigenous communities and the RCMP in the Yukon is "very good," especially compared to other places he's worked in Canada.

"We always have work to do to make it better," he said. "There's always room for more improvement."

Written by Ashleigh Mattern based on an interview by Dave White

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