Three Oshki-Pimache-O-Win The Wenjack Education Institute Police Foundations graduates/students are currently studying at the Ontario Police College (OPC) after being hired by the Ontario Provincial Police for the Pikangikum detachment. The three OPP recruits, Rhonda Peters and Daphne Peters from Pikangikum and Brendan Mawakeesick from Sandy Lake, will also study at the OPP training facility in Orillia after completing the OPC training. Once the recruits complete their training at OPC and the OPP training facility, they will be assigned a coach officer in Pikangikum.
“Being at Ontario Police College is a great experience,” Mawakeesick says in an e-mail comment. “Being far away from home has it challenges, but these are the same challenges I faced when I had to leave my home community for high school. Meeting new people that dreamed of being here makes it easier because we all have the same goal to achieve.”
Mawakeesick says the four-semester Oshki Police Foundations program was a “great environment,” noting he developed an interest in policing after seeing First Nation police officers in his community when he was growing up.
“The (Police Foundations) instructors were great and made us feel comfortable,” Mawakeesick says. “All the staff were very friendly, kind and very supportive. I really enjoyed spending time with my classmates and doing the physical fitness exercises and learning new things.”
Sean Mulligan, Police Foundations coordinator at Oshki, says the Police Foundations program focuses on policing in Ontario, including learning about the federal and provincial statutes and how to enforce them, how to do proper note taking and the application of use of force in de-escalation strategies.
“Additionally through Oshki-Wenjack we have what’s known as the MILO Range Pro simulator which allows (students) to apply their knowledge during the fourth semester in simulations that are projected on the screen in front of them,” Mulligan says. “Depending on how they interact with the situations, then they are able to resolve the situation peacefully without the application of force.”
Mulligan says more than 1,000 scenarios can be projected onto the MILO Range Pro simulator screen.
“What the students have to do is interact using proper posture and verbal cues,” Mulligan says. “Once they are done the situation, if there is an apprehension we freeze the scenario, bring in a role player and the students actually have the ability to handcuff the individual (and) continue with the arrest. They have to advise them of their right to counsel and the application of the charter, and then they conduct a search.”
Mulligan says the delivery model for the Police Foundations program is the same as the other Oshki programs, but with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic the program is being delivered through an online format.
“When we’re running normally they’re in class for up to two weeks, they return back to their communities for five weeks during which time they do online training in the evening with the faculty members,” Mulligan says. “With the COVID-19 pandemic we’ve had to switch gears a little bit, and it worked to our advantage because we have been doing a lot of it online with them. For the two weeks that they are doing (the former in-class session), we call it the online intensive training now. So they may be spending anywhere from four-to-six hours online with faculty members.”
Mawakeesick encourages people to “work hard” towards their education or career goals.
“There are ways to go around barriers and asking for help is always the first step,” Mawakeesick says. “Opportunities are everywhere and hard work does pay off.”