Canada’s federal Indigenous policing program will expand to Nunavut

But the announcement doesn’t necessarily mean more Inuit will be hired, the territory's justice minster says .

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Craig Simailak, Nunavut’s justice minister, speaks in the legislative assembly Tuesday. (Emma Tranter / Nunatsiaq News)

A federal program that is supposed to support Indigenous-led approaches to public safety will expand to Nunavut over the next three years, the territory’s justice minister announced Tuesday.

The Government of Nunavut and the federal government have signed an agreement in principle to bring the First Nations and Inuit policing program to Nunavut, Craig Simailak told the legislative assembly.

“With this, we hope to see the end of all two-person detachments in our territory,” he said.

The cost of the program will be split between the two governments, with the federal government paying 52 percent and Nunavut covering 48 percent.

Under the program, more officers will be hired and they will be given a “unique mandate” developed in consultation with the communities they work in.

It is being run by the RCMP, meaning people hired under the program will be RCMP officers, Simailak said.

“These new, community-focused RCMP members mark an important step in our efforts to increase community engagement and investment in public safety and a very positive development in our work to build reconciliation between Inuit communities and the RCMP,” he said.

Simailak said the program will focus on community engagement, crime prevention and community safety.

“This means Nunavummiut will have more of a say in how policing is conducted in their communities,” he said.

Arviat-South MLA Joe Savikataaq asked Simailak how much the federal government will be paying for the program. Simailak said he could not provide an answer at the time.

Savikataaq also asked what is being done to attract more Inuit to the RCMP. Currently there are five Inuit RCMP officers in Nunavut.

“Since this is [a] First Nations and Inuit [policing] program, I’m going to assume that these new RCMP officers will have to be an Inuk?”

Simailak said the program does not necessarily require officers to be Inuit.

“The title is a bit misleading … it’s geared toward the region,” he said.

“The [RCMP] do endeavor to continue to encourage Nunavummiut, Inuit to become RCMP members,” he added.