New head of Nunavut RCMP aims to hire more Inuit

‘I think people will see from our actions that the RCMP can be trusted,’ said Chief Supt. Andrew Blackadar, who has officially taken over as the commanding officer of Nunavut RCMP. (David Gunn/CBC)

The new head of the RCMP in Nunavut says he’ll continue to try to recruit more Inuit to work for the police service.

“We don’t actually have a number in mind, but it’s to increase from where we are right now,” said Chief Supt. Andrew Blackadar, after officially taking over his new role last week.

“On our public service side, we do quite well with our recruiting, but our regular members in the territory, we’re still struggling.”

Blackadar has been in the job in Nunavut since last year, but a ceremony was held last week in Iqaluit to officially mark the changing of the guard. Blackadar replaced Chief Supt. Amanda Jones as Nunavut’s top officer.

Blackadar began his career with the RCMP in 1990 in Newfoundland and Labrador, working mostly in rural areas. He’s cited his time in the remote Labrador communities of Hopedale and Davis Inlet as career highlights.

He said so far, Nunavut has been a great place to be.

“I’m not a big city person, so you know, I enjoy the solitude and the remoteness of the territory,” he said.

“Don’t mind the cold so far, even though last winter was very cold.”

The Nunavut RCMP headquarters in Iqaluit. (David Gunn/CBC)

Blackadar said it’s important to have Nunavummiut working with the police force, and not just as full-fledged police officers. He says the First Nations and Inuit Policing Program — an initiative funded by the federal and territorial government to put more officers in Indigenous communities — will help.

“The seven police officers that we’re going to be deploying across the territory will be involved in Inuit programming, versus just somebody else in uniform enforcing the law,” Blackadar said.

“That’s going to be a big piece for me, and I hope that that will help encourage people to become part of the RCMP family.”

Asked about the historically fraught relationship between police and Inuit communities, Blackadar said “trust takes a long time to build.”

“It doesn’t happen overnight or it doesn’t happen with the change of one person. I think our actions will build trust,” he said.

“I think people will see from our actions that the RCMP can be trusted.”

With files from Emily Haws

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Researchers identify gene variant responsible for inherited lung disease in Inuit, Eye on the Arctic

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