Members of Manitoba First Nations Police Service serve many needs in the communities where they are stationed. The members of the police service attend career fairs for young people interested in policing. They are in the schools talking about bullying, drug awareness, and distracted/impaired driving. Annually, the police service puts on a victims of crime event.
Students are hired from the community to get policing experience related to crime prevention. Of special importance to the members of the police service is the after school program. This program emphasizes sports, culture, education, and healthy living; it is based on the principles of rights, responsibility, respect, and rules. JoAnn Helgason says, “We offer a supervised, structured program that’s safe. Parents know that their kids can stay after school. It’s available in their home community. We have a canteen and feed them, we provide buses to take them home.” Connections into the community are established; the kids and the police form positive relations.
In time, some of these young people will apply and become First Nations police officers. It’s a natural fit: the communities want their own people policing and the young people coming out of the after school program are ready to take that step.
JoAnn Helgason was interviewed high above the ice at the Dakota Nation Winterfest held in Brandon, Manitoba January 31 to February 3, 2019. Dakota Nation Winterfest provides an excellent opportunity for Indigenous peoples from across Canada and the United States to showcase themselves through sports, talents and culture under one roof.