The second intake of a recruitment program aimed at increasing the number of Inuit officers within the ranks of the RCMP in Nunavut may be coming to Rankin Inlet during the spring of 2021, said a staff sergeant within the force.
Denis Lambe, who has supervised the recruiting section for the past three years, said the program, which began in Iqaluit earlier this year, was unprecedented across the country and is now an example of a positive recruiting strategy not only for Inuit in Nunavut, but for First Nations as well.
He said having been in Nunavut for the past 25 years – 18 of them as an RCMP officer – he couldn’t help but notice the force isn’t recruiting any Inuit within its ranks.
“Every commanding officer down to every officer and the Government of Nunavut (GN) keeps saying we have to recruit more, we have to recruit more, but we were trying to recruit more using the same strategies with the same barriers and downfalls,” said Lambe.
“We haven’t had an Inuk RCMP officer go through Depot since 2003.
“I had a young officer over in Baker Lake named Dmitri Malakhov – I was his field coach when he joined the RCMP years ago – who I brought in to help me get the new program off the ground and David Aglukark has been handling the actual recruitment process side of things.
“I reviewed what we did years ago, in 2001 and 2002, when we had some successful Inuit candidates join the force, and I saw they were getting some assistance to raise their ability to pass the RCMP exam, which is the biggest barrier we have because people just can’t get past it to advance to the following stages.”
Lambe said recruits in 2001 and 2002 were allowed to continue on even if they didn’t pass the RCMP exam, and they all passed everything thrown at them in Depot.
He said today’s hierarchy in the RCMP wouldn’t exempt new recruits from the RCMP exam, so a new way had to be found to help them advance.
“So we set up a new program in Iqaluit this year. We were hoping for 20 Inuit recruits to sign up and we ended up with 11.
“We had the Nunavut Literacy Council design a program to specifically help the young recruits pass our exam.
“Everyone failed the exam the first time they wrote it but, after they had a chance to do more work on the program and get a bit more training, every single one of them passed the exam.
“So we’re confident when we run this program again, we’ll have the same result.”
Lambe said they lost the majority of their candidates in the first intake for various reasons, and now have two remaining who are waiting for their chance at passing Depot.
He said both remaining candidates, one male and one female, are from the Kivalliq region, and he hopes hosting the second intake for the recruitment program in Rankin Inlet will get even more Inuit interested in the opportunity.
“Depot will be spooling back up in a month or so, with a very limited number of candidates going through, so I’m hopeful our two remaining candidates from our first program will get the chance to go through sometime in the early fall.
“Pujjuut Kusugak, who taught the first segment designed by the Nunavut Literacy Council, will also be teaching the course in Rankin Inlet and Adriana Kusugak will be heavily involved, as well.
“We couldn’t be doing this without the support of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., which funded the bulk of this whole thing, and the GN’s Family Services came on board in a big way and helped us with some funding.
“We had to go out and find external funding for this program, so without their help this whole thing would never have happened.
“We’re looking at whether the RCMP can fund this moving forward but it doesn’t look that way, so we’re going to continue going out and beating the drum to keep this going on an annual basis, and, hopefully, we can get the numbers back up to where we need them to be.”