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Police foundations program culturally sensitive

Thursday April 26, 2012

Police Foundations students at Seven Generations Education Institute are looking forward to bringing a better understanding of First Nation communities to area police forces.

“My wife and my daughter are band members of Couchiching,” said James Marengere, a second-year police foundations student. “If I do get into First Nations policing, I feel I do have a lot better understanding of some of the communities and some of the culture.”

Marengere said about 90 per cent of his fellow classmates are Aboriginal, with most of the students hailing from the Fort Frances area, two from the Kenora area and one from Ottawa.

“Some of the courses and extra-curricular program are more Aboriginal oriented,” Marengere said. “You get some cultural learning for those who are not so aware and a refresher for those who do.”

The cultural component was the reason the Ottawa student enrolled in the program, said Bill Perrault, police foundations program coordinator.

“He wanted to make sure that he was culturally sensitive,” Perrault said. “He commuted and he was living here for the two years while he goes home during the summer time. He came here specifically for that reason.”

Perrault said Seven Generations offers a multitude of cultural activities throughout the school year, including a three-day fall harvest event, which usually attracts 500 to 700 people each year.

“We are on the shoreline of Rainy Lake and we have different stations,” Perrault said. “It’s a pretty good opportunity for the students especially if they are coming to a place where they want to learn different cultures.”

Marengere said the class instructors were excellent, noting both instructors during the second year had about 30 years of experience.

“Between both of them, they bring 60 years of policing experience to the table,” Marengere said. “They could really expand on the material in the text, with their real-life experience.”
Perrault said the Treaty Three Police Services office is located right across the street from Seven Generations, so the Treaty Three Police officers often provided workshops and talked with the police foundations students.

“It’s a benefit for them too, because they are kind of looking at them as potential recruits in the future,” Perrault said. “We also have recruiters coming in from the Ontario Provincial Police that are also looking at our students.”

Marengere is planning to apply to both the Ontario Provincial Police and the Treaty Three Police once he graduates from the program.

“It’s an excellent program,” Marengere said. “It can open up a lot of doors, not just for policing.”

Seven Generations is offering the Police Foundations program again this fall through Canadore College for about 12-15 students, up to a maximum of 25 students.

“One of the benefits to going to school here is you really don’t get lost in the shuffle,” Perrault said. “We have a lot of things set up to support our students and the student-to-instructor ratio is really low.”

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