By Kevin J. Sabo
For Ponoka News
Ponoka resident Chevi Rabbit is taking part in a new project of the Alberta RCMP in partnership with community members across the province.
The Commanding Officer’s Diversity Advisory Council was initiated by the Alberta RCMP to “explore and better understand diversity topics in the context of police activities,” states a recent RCMP press release.
The council aims to develop initiatives that enhance police relations and communications with diverse communities and citizens.
Rabbit, who is an advocate for both LGBT and Indigenous rights, is one of six Albertans who were selected as advisors to the council.
“I know that within the LGBT community and the Indigenous community, both fear the police,” said Rabbit.
“Lots feel targeted, lots face discrimination. I may have a positive experience with police officers, but I recognize through my work that a lot of marginalized groups don’t have those experiences.”
The council members are comprised of both internal Alberta RCMP members from all levels of the command, and active members of diverse communities from across the province, whose purpose is to sit in an advisory role “on matters related to community policing, diversity, and inclusion.”
“It’s a good start, and long overdue,” said Rabbit.
“I’m hoping, through my voice on (the council) we can reach reconciliation about the dark chapter of Canadian history, and the dark role (the RCMP) played in oppressing Indigenous people.
Rabbit went on to say she feels it’s time for the RCMP to modernize and root out systemic discrimination.
The Commanding Officer’s Diversity Advisory Council held their inaugural meeting in February and beginning in March, will be meeting one evening every two months, something which Rabbit is looking forward to.
“I want to make sure that I do good with the role, because I represent the LGBT community and also the indigenous community, and I think I’m the only one on the committee to represent those demographics,” said Rabbit.
“I think with my role, and the committee’s role, with our background as advocates, we can take all our experience we’ve learned over our lifetimes and bring that awareness to the (council).”
Deputy Commissioner Curtis Zablocki, Commanding Officer of Alberta RCMP was excited to hold the first council meeting last month.
“This is another way we can work with community members to enhance trust with all of the many citizens we serve,” said Zablocki in a press release.
“The Alberta RCMP will work towards change through meaningful discussions with the council members who all offer unique perspectives from their communities and experiences. Together, we will collaborate, share and listen.”
Rabbit, currently finishing school through Athabasca University, writes on Indigenous and LGBT issues for Black Press Media.