Calgary, AB,

Recognizing Red Dress Day - Update on our Indigenous Roadmap

Today, Wednesday May 5, 2021, to acknowledge the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, a red dress will be displayed at the Calgary Police Service (CPS) headquarters and several district offices. This grassroots movement began in 2010, and also serves to remember Trans and Two-Spirit individuals who have gone missing or who have been murdered. The red dresses act as a visual reminder of the missing women, girls, and Two-Spirit people. The red dress on display at CPS headquarters has been blessed by members of the Indigenous community. CPS will also be displaying red dresses at Districts 1, 6 and 7.

The CPS Indigenous Roadmap affirms our commitment to reconciliation and is a key deliverable in our commitment to anti-racism. Through this work, we address the Truth and Reconciliation Committee’s (TRC) Calls to Action and the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) Calls for Justice. This work is organized into the following seven categories:

  1. Custody & Jail Alternatives
  2. Physical Activity & Sport
  3. Indigenous Victims Services
  4. Sacred Spaces and Culture Within the Police Environment
  5. Mental Health & Addictions
  6. Education & Relationships
  7. Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls

Over the last two years, CPS members in collaboration with our Indigenous Advisory Board and community partnerships, have been engaged in developing solutions, creating partnerships for specific responses and/or playing an advocacy role in ensuring all 22 Calls are being addressed.

“Reconciliation and our relationship with the Indigenous community must always be prioritized” says Deputy Chief Katie McLellan of the Bureau of Service and Community Support. “Through learning the history of our Indigenous peoples, this means taking an approach that is rooted in both understanding and a deliberate and determined effort to create an environment at CPS that provides ongoing opportunities to honour, celebrate and strengthen our relationship.”

In 2021, in support of this ongoing work, the following steps have been taken:

Sacred Space

A designated Sacred Space located at CPS headquarters has been offered to the community. This is an ethical space that will be designed by Indigenous artists and youth in order to support traditional Indigenous ways of knowing that can be utilized by Indigenous victims and witnesses accessing the justice system. Talking Circles with local community Elders and Traditional Knowledge Keepers as well as research done by Public Safety Canada affirms that a process of healing in order to build healthier and safer communities requires a holistic approach, which this Sacred Space will provide. A portion of the funding was provided through Justice Canada.

Recruit graduation ceremonies

Working closely with our Indigenous Advisory Board, we were honoured to have an advisory board member present at our April 2021 recruit class, to carry out the Smudge and lead the Honour Song. This is a continuation of the inclusion of Smudging and Honour Song at all CPS recruit graduations since 2019, and will continue to hold prominence in all future graduation events, as CPS acknowledges that all those who work, play and make their home in Calgary are treaty people.

Fostering ongoing dialogue

To foster our ongoing partnership with the Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth (USAY), members of the Calgary Police Service are taking part in a series of conversations with USAY members. The first of these conversations took place yesterday, Tuesday, May 4, 2021, and will continue through to September 2021 with a shared goal of transferring knowledge, providing support and building stronger relationships with a focus on addressing systemic racism. The key themes of these conversations will be shared with the public through a magazine that USAY will be publishing in the fall.

Connecting to resources

To best equip our frontline members in their interactions with Indigenous members of the community, the Connect Line app, available to all frontline members, is being populated to include access to agencies and supports that specialize in addressing the needs of the Indigenous community. This app includes agencies that provide emergency shelters, legal aid, counselling, mental health care and addictions treatment, as well as agencies that specialize in supporting members of the LGBTQ2S+ community, people with disabilities, sex workers, new Canadians, seniors and youth, and now, members of our Indigenous community. Final consultation with our service partners is underway to ensure that our recommended resources are in line with best practices.

Calgary Indigenous Court Officer program

A CPS officer has been assigned as a dedicated resource for the Calgary Indigenous Court program. This officer works directly with the program, to ensure a culturally relevant, restorative, and holistic system of justice is available for Indigenous individuals, including offenders, victims and the community harmed by an offender’s actions.

We are committed to developing trusted, longstanding relationships and partnerships with the Indigenous community and will continue to share updates on our progress.

For detailed information related to our commitment to anti-racism, equity and inclusion, please visit our website.