RCMP pledges at MMIWG inquiry in Regina to do better on Indigenous issues

The head of Canada's national police force says it's clear her officers could improve Indigenous relations and is promising improvements.

Mother of missing woman says hearing can help with closure

At the hearing, Brenda Lucki (left) said she participated in the first blanket exercise that was offered to cadets as part of their training. (Media pool feed)

The head of Canada's national police force apologized to family members of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls on Monday. 

RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki was the first of four witnesses to speak at a hearing being held in Regina as part of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. 

Lucki said in a statement she was sorry for the loss of their loved ones, 

"I'm sorry that for too many of you, the RCMP was not the police service you needed it to be during this terrible time in your life."
Diane Bigeagle plans to attend the hearing throughout the week. (Kendall Latimer/CBC)

Diane Bigeagle attended the hearings. She wasn't in the room when Lucki shared her statement, but she said the news was pleasing.

"(It) takes a lot to admit maybe you could do better and I like that, you know it makes me feel good anyway to hear that," Bigeagle said. 

Her daughter, Danita Faith Bigeagle, was 22 years old when she was last seen in Regina in 2007. She is a mother to two, and her case remains with the Regina Police Service cold case unit. 

Bigeagle said she wants to attend the hearing throughout the week — mostly because she wants people to remember her daughter is still missing.
The hearing in Regina, starting on Monday, will focus on police practices and policies. (CBC)

That's why she attends every possible gathering.

"I have to come out and see what they can do for me and what I can do for them, so that I can get some closure at some point in my life," she said.

"A lot of these people are going through the same thing as me and so they know how I feel and I know how they feel."

The focus of the hearing is police practices and policies. It runs Monday until Friday at the Hotel Saskatchewan. Hearings were also held in Saskatoon in November last year.

Bigeagle said she experienced trust issues when it came to her daughter's case. She said the most important thing police could do is to listen. 

"You can't say oh that's not true, that couldn't have happened, because look at what's happening in Saskatchewan and all across Canada. These girls are going missing and they're being murdered," she said.

In her statement, Lucki said her officers could improve Indigenous relations and is promising improvements.

"It's very clear to me that the RCMP could have done better. I promise to you, we will do better. You are entitled to nothing less than our best work in your communities," Lucki said.

Chief Commissioner Marion Buller said she thought the apology was "very heartfelt. I thought it was sincere."

However, when asked if the apology was enough Buller said "I think we have to wait until the end of the week to really to have the full picture to give a good comment on that."

She said the "proof will be in what happens on the ground."

RCMP training improved

Lucki says the RCMP has made changes to its cadet training curriculum to include more Indigenous material.

One of the additions includes a blanket exercise in which cadets are taught to better understand the different issues facing Indigenous people.

That program has been introduced over the last four to six months.

Lucki is the first commissioner from the Mounties to be a witness at the inquiry. She was unable to comment further on Monday about the apology because her testimony at the hearings was not finished. 

What people say this week will inform the recommendations the inquiry puts forward in its final report. 

With files from the Canadian Press