Building trust between Aboriginal people and police

“It must be remembered that members of Aboriginal communities have not always had positive experiences with public services. It takes a while to deconstruct these bad experiences. They are human beings like you and me, and they have the right to receive the same services, and we must give them in a climate of trust. “
The policeman Carl Tremblay of Saguenay Police Department, became a regular at the Native Friendship Center of Jacques-Cartier Street Chicoutimi, where he has become accustomed to land regularly to greet people. He is the liaison officer of a partnership project put in place over the last year with the approval of the police department to facilitate the integration of members of the Innu and Attikamek communities who live in Saguenay for various reasons.

“Today there are 1500 members of the communities living in the regional metropolis. We can also expect this community to become more important in the coming years. It has doubled in the space of two years. The center gives them support, and we decided to create links by getting closer to the center. The taming was slow and today we have open relations, and we make interventions as we do with other groups, “says the police.

The services provided by the SPS are varied. They include the whole prevention component with the possibility that the liaison officer be present during an emergency response.

“A few days ago, I gave a presentation to parents on the whole phenomenon of youth and the use of social networks as we do in schools. They are experiencing the same problems as us with young people and the whole Internet phenomenon. When an emergency occurs, they can contact 911 like everyone else and I can also ask that I be present and even accompanied by a social worker when necessary, “says Carl Tremblay.

In Western Canada, the integration of Aboriginal people in the big cities is not a success. In Saguenay, the police officer considers that there is always a form of discrimination, but that perceptions change on both sides. Carl Tremblay is convinced that establishing a partnership that is maintained on a permanent basis greatly facilitates dialogue and allows adjustments to be made according to the specific culture of these citizens.

Carl Tremblay does not see his work as specific accommodation. He points out that people from different communities who land in Saguenay to receive specialized health care that they do not have at home, to pursue studies or to try to find a job temporarily lose their bearings. They therefore need to trust the representatives of the public services.

During the passage of Progress, policeman Tremblay was accompanied by five other police officers. They all took the official photo with the people present at the center.

“We talk about the need to integrate, but they also do actions. There is a daycare in the center and available places are offered to parents in Quebec. The children attend the Quatre-Vents school [Chicoutimi-Nord]. These are things that allow for reconciliation and eliminate prejudices, “concluded the police.

A wall to tear down

The community worker Karine Cleary agrees substantially in the same direction as the representative of the Saguenay Police Service. She also believes that the community could grow rapidly in the coming years as the services provided by the Commission scolaire des Rives-du-Saguenay with the École des Quatre-Vents, the partnership with the police service and the presence of UQAC are valued by members of Aboriginal communities.

“Things change even though there is always a wall between our communities. This year, we sensitized 5,000 people to the reality of Aboriginal people, “says the speaker.

Karine Cleary has heard, like everyone else, about the labor shortage that is settling in the region. Many members of the aboriginal communities who are settling in Saguenay are also looking for jobs.

“People will wear resumes when there are job offers. Many never have an answer, “says the community worker who hopes that employers will open their doors to Aboriginal people. Even the Quebec government has identified members of Quebec’s aboriginal communities as a group to consider in addressing the labor shortage.

Alan Carter
Alan Carter
Alan Carter has been a reporter on the news desk since 2015. Before that she wrote about young adolescents and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Koz Post, Alan Carter worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella.