Thunder Bay police revamping Aboriginal Liaison Unit
The Thunder Bay police plan to revamp its Aboriginal Liaison program in an attempt to have more cultural sensitivity training for all officers on the force.
Police Chief JP Levesque said that the department will soon approach the Aboriginal Liaison Advisory Committee with two new job descriptions for the two Liaison officers.
Under Levesque’s plan for the Aboriginal Liaison Unit, one officer will continue with the public advocacy role currently employed by the unit. The other officer’s position will be shifted away from public advocacy into creating a diversity-training package and conducting cultural sensitivity training for officers on the force.
“Once we redo the diversity training package, we’ll offer it to everybody (on the force),” Levesque said. “As soon as a new officer comes in the door, that will be one of the things we do.”
Levesque added that he has reached out to a number of Aboriginal leaders in Thunder Bay to help the Thunder Bay police with its diversity training, and has received positive response.
“One of the things I’m hearing from the Aboriginal leadership is to offer more of this kind of training from a historic sense, of this is why we’re here and this is how we got here,” Levesque said.
NAN Legal CEO Celina Reitberger, who has been spearheading her organization’s push to bridge the gap between First Nations people in Thunder Bay and the city’s police force, said the efforts to revitalize the Aboriginal Liaison Unit are good, but should be done in conjunction with the Aboriginal Liaison Advisory Council (ALAC).
Levesque agreed, and acknowledged that he has not taken advantage of the ALAC as much as he should have so far during his time as police chief.
“We’re looking at certainly getting ahold of that committee,” Levesque said. “And I don’t believe there’s a member of Nishnawbe Aski Nation on that committee, and there should be, so we’ll be making that invitation as well.”
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