The RCMP and members of a First Nation located just outside the City of Williams Lake have committed once again to continue strengthening their relationship which has been built on trust.
An annual letter of expectations was signed Aug. 27 at the Williams Lake First Nation’s (WLFN) government office by WLFN Chief Willie Sellars and Williams Lake RCMP Officer in Charge Inspector Jeff Pelley on behalf of the detachment’s First Nations Community Policing program.
The letter serves as an agreement between the RCMP and WLFN to address concerns, safety issues and problems within their community.
“We need support to police our reserve lands,” said Sellars. “Signing this letter of expectations is going to give that support, and really it’s about building relationships — it’s about making sure that the community is supportive of the RCMP and by signing this letter we take a step in that right direction.”
Pelley said the letter serves as a commitment for RCMP to help make a safer community by working on a number of initiatives and priorities involving traffic enforcement, crime prevention and community engagement.
“We can’t focus on those areas or have successes without the relationship piece,” he said.
“The support from the local leadership, elders, our youth and our community members as a whole is very instrumental in moving forward with our successes to make a safer community as a whole.”
Before a letter is signed, the RCMP meets with First Nation leadership to discuss shared priorities as well as successes, challenges and any areas requiring need for improvement.
Sellars called it great to see the RCMP stepping up, and that they have had good dialogue.
“Of course it’s not perfect but it’s something that we’re improving on — that cultural awareness, historical component, the education and the reconciliation piece, those are all things that we’re continuing to work on and get better at,” Sellars said, noting he has seen the animosity towards RCMP begin to subside.
“We’re starting to see that support from the community as well,” he added.
The Williams Lake RCMP provides policing to seven First Nations communities, and has also signed letters of expectations with Xat’sull (Soda Creek), Esk’etemc (Alkali Lake) and Stswecem’c Xgat’tem (Canoe Creek/Dog Creek).
Previously deployed at Telegraph Creek, Cpl. Eric Chrona of the Williams Lake RCMP Indigenous Policing Services section agreed with Sellars and said their relationship with WLFN has gotten better each year.
“That’s what we’re here for is to break down those walls and break down those barriers — that’s why we have youth engagement,” he said.
“It’s to show the youth that we’re people also and they can trust the police, and I’ve seen it with elders also and it is working.”