A new program designed to increase successful applications of aboriginal people applying to police services has been launched at the University of Winnipeg.
IPPD is a partnership between the RCMP, Winnipeg Police Service, U of W and Louis Riel Institute.
The diploma program, called the Indigenous Police Preparation Diploma, concentrates on skill development in areas where aboriginal applicants have been lacking.
U of W program director Dierdre Shore says the curriculum was designed that way.
“When the RCMP approached us, they wanted something that would reflect not only areas where upgrading of skills were necessary, but also something that wouldn’t duplicate what is taught at training academies.”
“They want to staff their services with people who are representative of the population, and the U of W wanted to be a part of servicing community needs,” added Shore.
RCMP Cst. Monique Cooper, aboriginal recruitment officer for Manitoba, says the program is designed to assist potential applicants through the recruiting process.”We need to get people through the process (and ) the program gives students the skills, aptitudes, and abilities to do that.”
“It’s like building a house – good foundation is what we’re working on here. We don’t hire officers and send them to Depot; we train them to become police officers.”
Thirteen students are being schooled in the areas of English grammar and writing, as note-taking and writing are constants in everyday police work. They are also upgrading computer skills because police work now involves use of central databases and file retrieval systems.
The program is hard work, with students putting in 40-hour weeks in the classroom, along with physical training.
But you won’t find Betsy Mousseau complaining. The twenty-something Anishinabe woman from Sandy Bay First Nation says she’s all in.
She moved to Winnipeg to finish her university education two years, and when news of the new program broke, she jumped at it.
“I always knew that I wanted to be a police officer,” said Mousseau. “I know that the RCMP wants people with life experience and I’m putting forth my best effort.”
Mousseau says she’s been attracted to the red serge of the RCMP since she attended a graduation at Depot (RCMP Training Academy in Regina) at the age of six. “It’s not just the red serge. They work together as part of a team and people go to them for help.”
Justin Smith, originally from Kahkewistahaw Cree Nation in Saskatchewan, agrees.
“I’ve always liked what police officers do,” said Smith. “They help people and though it can be hard to do that, I’m a people-person, so I think this may be a good fit for me. But I’ve got a fair bit to work on.”
Smith says though he worked in construction as a carpenter’s apprentice and would always have a job, he wanted something more.
“I thought I could be doing more and I knew I could. This program will help me get there because I want to help people.”