National security agencies’ relationship with racialized communities marred by a ‘trust gap:’ report

Not surprising and not one easy to reduce. And yes, my experience while in government with respect to the Cross-Cultural Roundtable on Security was that the information flow tended to be more one-way than a conversation:

The relationship between “racialized” groups and Canada’s national security and intelligence institutions —  like the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canada Border Services Agency  — continues to be bogged down by mistrust, says a new external report prepared for the federal government.

“We frequently heard about the trust gap between the country’s national security institutions and Canadians, and in particular with racialized Canadians,” says the report drafted by the National Security Transparency Advisory Group (NS-TAG) — an independent and external body first set up in 2019 to advise the deputy minister of Public Safety and the national security and intelligence community.

“At times, these relations have been marred by mistrust and suspicion, and by errors of judgment by these institutions, which impacted communities have perceived as discriminatory.”

The NS-TAG group, made up of 10 members from legal, civil society and national security backgrounds, warns that the emergence of artificial intelligence and data-driven intelligence poses a threat to racialized communities.

“Systemic biases in Artificial Intelligence (AI) design can have perverse impacts on vulnerable individuals or groups of individuals, notably racialized communities,” they found.

“These biases reflect not only specific flaws in AI programs and organizations using them, but also underlying societal cleavages and inequalities which are then reinforced and potentially deepened.”

CSIS responds

The report, published earlier this week, also calls on national security agencies to have better two-way conversations with communities.

“Too often engagement involves, in practice, government officials offloading a prepared message and failing to listen to the concerns of stakeholders,” says the report.

“Constructive engagement should instead be based on dialogue; government officials should be attuned to the questions and concerns of stakeholders, listen to them, and be prepared and willing to respond.”

The report also calls on agencies like CSIS to engage with communities on an ongoing basis — and not just when there’s a crisis.

The authors pointed to CSIS’s contact with the Iranian-Canadian community after the destruction of Flight PS752 in January 2020 and with the Muslim community following an attack on a mosque in Mississauga, Ont.

“Such engagement was important, but it was prompted by specific incidents. In our view, CSIS will not succeed in building long-term trust with racialized communities as long as its engagement is primarily reactive,” says the report.

CSIS responded to the report’s findings Friday by acknowledging the problem.

“We know that the voices of racialized communities and Indigenous peoples have not been heard as clearly as they should in conversations around policy, legislative and operational deliberations on national security matters,” CSIS wrote in a response published Friday.

“We are committed to changing this.”

Source: National security agencies’ relationship with racialized communities marred by a ‘trust gap:’ report

Canadian military not ready to waive citizenship requirement

Of note. The public service has done so. But whether such a change would result in a measurable increase in diversity is uncertain. It will be interesting to see if the RCMP’s recent removal of the requirement results in any significant improvement to their notoriously poor results.

Will also be interesting to see if any backlash to these changes in terms of the meaningfulness and advantages of citizenship:

Canada’s military is not yet ready to allow permanent residents to join its ranks, even as it struggles to boost recruitment and fix the growing diversity gap in the nation’s armed forces.

In response to a request from New Canadian Media, ahead of the inaugural  Navy Fleet Weekend in Vancouver, numbers provided by the Canadian Armed Forces (CAD) show that three-quarters of its ranks are white men.

Women make up 16.3 per cent of the Canadian military demographic; Indigenous peoples come in at 2.7 per cent while there is less than 12 per cent of visible minorities in the Canadian military make-up.

Canada needs about 100,000 troops to be at full strength, but it is short about 12,000 regular force troops and reservists currently.

Scrapping the citizenship requirement

A little-known immigration pathway called the Foreign Skilled Military Applicant (FSMA) has only seen 15 successful candidates over the last five years. 

“Over the last year alone, the Canadian Forces Recruiting Group (CFRG) interacted with approximately 100 individuals who were interested in joining the military through the FSMA,” military spokesperson Major Brian Kominar told NCM.

“Discussions involving the Department of National Defence, the Canadian Armed Forces, and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) on lifting the citizenship requirement are continuing, though there are no changes to announce at this time,” he said.

The CBC reported in 2018, in line with the government of Canada’s objective of raising the number of forces personnel, there are discussions to review the possibility of foreign nationals’ recruitment beyond skills applicants.

Lifting the forces’ citizenship requirement would be a sharp departure from Canada’s traditional recruitment practices and could open the doors to applications from thousands of permanent residents, the CBC reported.

Other countries — the U.S. among them — allow non-citizens to serve, with certain restrictions on the positions and ranks they can hold.

In 2016, the RCMP scrapped its citizenship requirement, allowing permanent residents who have lived in Canada for more than 10 years to apply. The goal was, in part, to boost diversity in the ranks.

“We invite any associations, agencies, or organizations that work with new Canadians to contact the Canadian Forces Recruiting Group and find out what resources and tools are available to improve awareness of the over 100 full-time and part-time occupations available in the Canadian Armed Forces,” said Major Kominar.

“Non-Canadian citizen applicants must meet IRCC guidelines and requirements before proceeding through the CAF recruiting system,” he added.

Representing the country it serves

A report from the Advisory Panel on Systemic Racism and Discrimination in Canada’s Defence Teamacknowledged the need for increased new immigrant participation in the armed forces.

“The proportion of people belonging to visible minorities in the labour force who were born in Canada is expected to increase from 20 per cent in 2016 to 26 per cent of the labour force by 2036…the increasing ethnocultural diversity of the labour force is expected to continue,” the report noted.

Earlier this month, Chief of the defence staff Gen. Wayne Eyre told the Ottawa Defence Conferencethat the CAF needs to “win the battle for talent” both in the recruitment and retention of new military members.

“If we don’t keep pace with the changing demographics, the changing face of Canada, we are going to be irrelevant,” he told the conference.

Among those taking the message to new immigrants to seek careers in the CAF is Manjot Pandher who moved to B.C. from India in 2010 and joined the Canadian Navy seven years later.

“It has provided me with great opportunities to travel while I was at school and learn new skills which will help me in my civilian career, later in life,” said Pandher, who is now a Navy Sailor 2nd Class.

“The military is a big family which welcomes everyone and being part of this family, you feel connected to Canada as a whole,” Pandher told NCM, adding that he will be at the Canadian Navy Fleet weekend.

The upcoming event, from April 29 to May 1, 2022, alongside the Burrard Dry Dock Pier in North Vancouver will feature Her Majesty’s Canadian Ships (HMCS) Vancouver, Winnipeg, Brandon, and Edmonton, plus three Patrol Craft Training Vessels, the Naval Tactical Operation Group, and Fleet Diving Unit (Pacific).

On May 1, marching contingents from the ships will be attending the Battle of the Atlantic Ceremony at Sailor’s Point Memorial in Waterfront Park, North Vancouver, to commemorate the 77th anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic.

Source: Canadian military not ready to waive citizenship requirement

RCMP’s ‘bias-free’ training and policies fall short, watchdog says

Of note. The importance of assessing what works and what doesn’t, in the context of a corporate culture that is hard to change:

The RCMP has introduced training and policies to rid its ranks of racism and other forms of bias — but until it starts tracking allegations it won’t know whether the plan is actually working, says a new report from the national police force’s civilian watchdog.

The Civilian Review and Complaints Commission (CRCC) conducted a review of what the RCMP calls its “bias-free policing model,” a training model meant to ensure equitable delivery of services.

“The RCMP’s national bias-free policing policy is inadequate, insufficient and unclear,” reads the report released Wednesday.

“When police actions are viewed as unfair or biased, the legitimacy of law enforcement suffers.”

RCMP policy states that employees are not to engage in racial profiling. That’s a “laudable” goal but it’s “too narrow,” the CRCC said.

“Profiling based on religion, ethnic origin, or other prohibited grounds is equally as harmful and to be avoided,” the CRCC wrote. “This should be clearly stated.”

The RCMP says it allows officers to rely on “relevant information” as part of a criminal investigation. That phrase should be explained and expanded on in RCMP policy to rule out bias, the CRCC wrote.

The RCMP’s public complaint system and its internal code of conduct both lack a category to cover allegations of bias. Allegations of discrimination, for example, could be lumped together under categories covering “act[ing] with integrity, fairness and impartially” or “discreditable conduct.”

The commission said that without proper accounting, it’s unable to determine if any Mounties face allegations of bias.

Source: RCMP’s ‘bias-free’ training and policies fall short, watchdog says

China’s effort to force return of citizens who emigrated a ‘growing problem,’ RCMP Commissioner says

Of concern (along with other issues):

RCMP commissioner Brenda Lucki calls Beijing’s interference and intimidation operations targeting people who emigrate from China to Canada a “problem,” and says victims can report the harassment to Canadian authorities without fear.

Commissioner Lucki said Friday in an interview that she had no details at hand about the scale of the issue, but is looking to step up actions the force takes against such operations.

“I would say yes, it is a problem, but the breadth and depth of it I couldn’t really say for sure,” she said.

“It’s a growing problem, obviously, and something we want to work together with our international and domestic partners on. A lot of it is about awareness and education, because things happen and we want to make sure people who are affected by this feel safe – that they can report this without fear of reprisal.”

To that end, Commissioner Lucki said, there is an RCMP phone number for people affected by such incidents to call. She said the number has been available at least since she became commissioner in 2018, but she could not immediately say how many people have called it.

The Globe and Mail reported this week that China has been expanding its use of coercion to force the return of Chinese citizens who have settled abroad, many of them in Australia, Canada and the United States, in a campaign targeting fugitives and dissidents.

The trend was identified in a new report by Spain-based rights group Safeguard Defenders.

Citing Chinese government data, Safeguard’s report says Beijing had surpassed 10,000 returns under one repatriation program, called Sky Net, by late 2021. This is the only program for which data are available, and the watchdog group says it is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to non-judicial efforts to secure the return of people wanted by the Chinese state in 120 countries.

The report identifies three methods China employs to forcibly retrieve citizens.

Chinese authorities first attempt to coax a return through the target’s family and relatives who still live in China. They harass loved ones and try to coerce them into passing messages to the person abroad.

A second method is directly approaching the target outside mainland China, including by sending Chinese agents. A third method is what Safeguard Defenders calls “kidnappings abroad,” in which Chinese authorities arrest targets on foreign soil and take them back to China.

Security flaw found in smartphone app for Olympians in Beijing

Cherie Wong, the executive director of Alliance Canada Hong Kong, an umbrella group for Hong Kong pro-democracy activists in Canada, said many have lost faith that law enforcement in this country can help stop harassment from Beijing.

“The community has lost trust in Canadian agencies to help them. Many individuals have approached RCMP for help, but are bounced between enforcement and intelligence agencies,” she said. “Canadian enforcement and intelligence agencies do not have the tools and resources to effectively counter foreign interference operations. Chinese party-state actors have long utilized legal grey areas to assert influence inappropriately.”

Ivy Li, a spokesperson for the Canadian Friends of Hong Kong, said Canada needs a foreign-agents registration act like those in Australia or the United States, as well as a centralized reporting centre for victims of intimidation by the Chinese government.

Mehmet Tohti, executive director of the Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project, said the RCMP do not have a public record of successfully tackling foreign-based harassment in Canada. “Uyghurs and other China-related activists approached the RCMP numerous times without any tangible result. For that reason many activists have already stopped reporting to the RCMP,” he said.

He added that he personally tried after his organization’s smartphones were hacked. His legal adviser “was directed from one unit to another unit, one department to another department,” he said.

Former RCMP commissioner Bob Paulson has acknowledged that not enough is being to done to stop coercion activities by China in Canada.

Mr. Paulson, the commissioner from 2011 to 2017, told The Globe this week that Canadian laws relating to extortion and threatening behaviour forbid these activities. But, he said: “We hadn’t devoted resources to this. … I can’t think of an instance where we have succeeded on the back of a complaint that Chinese agents were strong-arming citizens. You have to throw your shoulder into it.”

Commissioner Lucki said the RCMP’s federal policing program includes monitoring for foreign interference in Canadian affairs, such as election processes. She added that she expects some change in the RCMP’s approach to the issue in the year ahead, but declined to describe any specific plans. “It’s probably too early to ask that question,” she said.

Source: China’s effort to force return of citizens who emigrated a ‘growing problem,’ RCMP Commissioner says

MPs’ study of systemic racism in policing concludes RCMP needs new model

Yet more indication of the RCMP’s challenges with no easy or quick solutions:

It’s time for Canada to have a “reckoning” about the RCMP, says the chair of a House of Commons committee that studied systemic racism in policing.

John McKay, a Toronto Liberal MP and chair of the House public safety committee, said the Mounties are a globally known Canadian icon, but it’s time to acknowledge the RCMP’s “quasi-military” existence is not working for all Canadians.

“There is a season and a time for a reckoning for every country and its institutions,” McKay said at a news conference Thursday.

“This in my judgment is a time for Canada to have a reckoning with itself and with its premier institutions.”

The public safety committee began the study of systemic racism in policing in June 2020, after weeks of protests in Canada and the United States following the murder of George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer.

Floyd’s death also turned a spotlight on racism and police in Canada. Jack Harris, the NDP public safety critic, moved a motion to study systemic racism in policing on June 23, 2020, and the committee agreed. The report was issued Thursday, based on 19 meetings, testimony from 53 witnesses and more than a dozen written briefs.

The report says MPs on the committee can conclude only that “systemic racism in policing in Canada is a real and pressing problem to be urgently addressed.”

But the MPs also admit that this report is just the latest in a long list of studies and reviews that concluded the same thing, none of which led to much change.

Harris said Thursday “it is more clear than ever before that the RCMP needs transformational change” but is worried because he says the Liberal government under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “has a history of failing to act on reports.”

“The time is now to take serious and concrete action. The RCMP needs to move away from the paramilitary colonial model to a police service model with strong civilian oversight.”

The committee also calls for mandatory data collection on excessive use of force, better training on de-escalation and responding to people in a mental health crisis, more diversity in police forces and oversight bodies, and better funding for Indigenous police forces, including in urban areas with large Indigenous populations.

The MPs also want better parameters for when force is permitted to be used by police, and “serious consequences” for RCMP officers who use force excessively.

The Conservatives, in a supplementary report, urged more work on that front, saying it is not clear from the witnesses whether the problem is in guidelines for use of force, or a lack of training and enforcement regarding those guidelines.

The committee has requested that the government provide a “comprehensive response” to the report.

Moya Teklu, executive director and general counsel at the Black Legal Action Centre in Toronto, said the “most promising” recommendations in the report are decriminalizing simple possession of drugs, offering pardons to people previously convicted of simple possession, and ensuring police discretion to offer alternatives to the courts be used equitably for Black and other racialized youths.

She is less enthusiastic about the impact of more training and oversight for the RCMP, saying there isn’t much evidence they’ll help.

“Demilitarization is an important step,” she said. “But only if it also means spending less money on policing.”

Teklu said the report’s findings are not new for Black and Indigenous communities.

“An acknowledgment of the existence and reality of systemic racism at different levels of government is important,” she said. “A reduction in the Black and Indigenous prison populations, and a reduction in the number of Black and Indigenous people that are stopped, questioned, surveilled, arrested, beaten and murdered by police is more important. That is the real change we want to see.”

Quebec Liberal MP Greg Fergus, who chairs the Parliamentary Black caucus and participated in the committee’s study, agreed the existence of systemic racism is not a revelation.

But he said the committee has done valuable work in listening and responding to multiple witnesses who were able to speak about the issue in depth.

“What’s also new is that there’s a road map now, because of this report, this unanimous report of parliamentarians from all walks of life,” he said. They have laid out a very clear process forward to make the changes, “not only in the RCMP but in police services across the country which can be inspired by this.”

“That’s what’s new. That’s what’s important. That’s what’s necessary.”

Source: MPs’ study of systemic racism in policing concludes RCMP needs new model

Thirty years ago, he became the first Mountie to wear a turban. Here’s why he still worries about hate ‘in the shadows’

Good reminder of Canada coming to terms with a more open society and identities, even as the RCMP continues to face challenges in recruitment of women and visible minorities (Indigenous peoples are above their population share and labour market availability):

During a visit to Calgary in late 2019, Baltej Dhillon couldn’t resist paying a visit to Shoulder to Shoulder Militaria & Collectibles after his son-in-law told him what he’d spotted inside.

Behind a glass display case were a bunch of pins that had been produced three decades earlier, when Dhillon was caught up in a fierce national debate over whether the RCMP should allow Sikh officers — like him — to wear turbans on duty.

One pin showed an image of a turban-wearing Mountie with a cross through it and the label: “Keep the RCMP Canadian.”

Another pin showed a turban-wearing Mountie riding a camel. It was labelled: “Canada’s New Musical Ride.”

Stunned to see these “symbols of hate” still in circulation, Dhillon snatched up about $50 worth of the pins. When he went to pay for them, he says, he could sense a tinge of embarrassment from the store’s merchant.

“I am grateful to live in a country where expression is part of our freedom,” he told the Star.

“Propagating hate, however, is not.”

This month marks the 30th anniversary of when Dhillon graduated from the RCMP training academy and made history as the first Mountie to be permitted to wear a turban while on the job. Through a 2021 lens, some will find it jarring to think that such a simple thing could be a source of controversy, but the uniform policy change sparked heated discussion over the meaning of Canadian identity, as well as petitions and court challenges seeking to preserve traditional elements of the Mounties’ garb, such as the Stetson hat.

While Dhillon, of Surrey, B.C., says there’s no question attitudes have evolved over the past three decades, there remains much that has not. The Star discovered as much, recently, when it spoke to some of the people who fought against his right to wear the turban while in uniform three decades ago.

For his part, Dhillon said the continued circulation of the pins, the relatively recent debate over whether people should be allowed to wear face coverings during citizenship ceremonies and Quebec’s ban on government workers wearing religious symbols all show there’s still a lot of work to be done in “finding kindness and compassion in how we interact with each other.”

“We need to continue to be vigilant because that hatred is just in the shadows.”


In 1988, Dhillon was in his early 20s and figuring out what he wanted to do with his life.

His part-time work as an RCMP jail guard led him to apply to become a Mountie. He passed the initial application process but didn’t proceed further because he wasn’t willing to conform with the RCMP’s uniform policy, which required him to remove his turban, something he’d been wearing since he was 12.

“I’m not able to do that and cannot do that because of my commitment to my way of life and my articles of faith,” he says he told his recruiter.

Having been born and raised in Malaysia, where it was commonplace to see Sikh officers in law enforcement and armed forces, Dhillon says he had no inkling of the “great national debate” about to unfold.

In spring 1989, then-RCMP commissioner Norm Inkster recommended to the federal government a change in dress regulations to allow Mounties to wear turbans as part of their uniforms.

It sparked an outcry.

Three Calgary sisters from an RCMP family — Kay Mansbridge, Dot Miles and Gen Kantelberg — launched a petition calling for the preservation of the “distinctive heritage and tradition of the RCMP.”

“I don’t think we can give up our heritage just to pacify one religious group,” Mansbridge told the Calgary Herald at the time, adding that “chaos” would result when other minority groups demanded the right to wear their cultural garb.

The sisters insisted their petition — which gathered more than 200,000 signatures — was not fuelled by racism.

“I have friends who are East Indian,” Mansbridge told the Ottawa Citizen. “I even looked after their children.”

Meanwhile, some business owners saw potential to make money out of the controversy.

Herman Bittner of Langdon, Alta., produced a calendar containing a portrait of himself wearing a red serge, a turban and dark makeup on his face. He is identified as “Sgt. Kamell Dung” alongside the caption: “Is this Canadian, or does this make you Sikh?”

“I’m doing a job the politicians should be doing — they’re supposed to be representing the views of the majority,” he told The Canadian Press.

Two Calgary business owners — Bill Hipson and Peter Kouda — reportedly started mass producing pins that also mocked turban-wearing Mounties.

One of Kouda’s pins ended up in the collection of the Galt Museum & Archives in Lethbridge. According to the museum’s website, it depicts a Caucasian man surrounded by three visible minorities with the caption: “Who is the minority in Canada?”

As the controversy grew and respectful debate turned hateful, Dhillon said he could no longer remain the “quiet candidate.”

“I quickly realized there was a lot of ignorance and a lot of misinformation around the Sikh faith, the Sikh way of life, and there weren’t many spokespersons within the community that were able to speak to the issue from my perspective. So I took it upon myself to make myself available at that time.”

The debate found its way into the halls of Parliament in Ottawa.

“The RCMP cannot be frozen in time,” NDP MP Jim Karpoff told the House of Commons at the time. “Canada is an evolving multi-ethnic community and the RCMP should fully represent this.”

As part of the same debate, Louise Feltham, a Progressive Conservative MP from Alberta, asked: “If you make an exception for one group of people, where do you stop?”

“Today’s uniform depicts neutrality, impartiality, tradition, history and heritage. ”

But in March 1990, the government under Brian Mulroney announced it was moving forward with the dress code changes and an application form was created for Sikh officers wishing to be exempted from the standard headdress.


Dhillon graduated from the RCMP training academy in May 1991 and began working at the RCMP detachment in Quesnel, B.C.

Community reception at the time was mixed. When he walked into some bars to do sobriety checks, he was greeted as a hero. In others, he was greeted with boos.

“I would take it in stride,” he said. “I would take a bow, wave at them and make my way out. What more can you do?”

Dhillon says his staff sergeant greeted him icily on his first day on the job but when he retired a couple of years later, “He looks at me and says, ‘You’re like a son to me.’”

Meanwhile, a group of retired Mounties from Lethbridge — John Grant, Kenneth Riley and Howard Davis — along with Kay Mansbridge, filed a lawsuit seeking an order prohibiting the RCMP from allowing the wearing of religious symbols and a declaration that the commissioner’s actions were unconstitutional.

The plaintiffs, according to court records, asserted that when a religious symbol is allowed to be part of the RCMP uniform, the appearance of impartiality is undermined.

Outside the courtroom, the plaintiffs used far looser language.

“When they come over here why do they have to change it and make it the same way it is in their homeland?” Grant, one of the plaintiffs told Southam News. “Anybody that looks at it any differently in my opinion should get the hell out of Canada because they’re not good Canadians.”

The defendants argued the change in uniform policy was designed to remove a barrier to the employment of Sikhs in the RCMP and to reflect the multicultural nature of Canada.

In 1994, the Federal Court dismissed the lawsuit, concluding there was no evidence anyone had been deprived of their liberty or security by RCMP members wearing turbans, or had experienced a reasonable apprehension of bias.

The decision was upheld by the Federal Court of Appeal. The plaintiffs took the case to Canada’s highest court, which declined to hear it.

Laura Morlock, a lecturer at Ryerson University, spoke extensively with Dhillon for her PhD dissertation on religious diversity and dress at the University of Waterloo.

It’s interesting that when Dhillon started his RCMP career, he was accused of “threatening Canadian identity,” Morlock said. Now, when you do a Google image search of “Canadian multiculturalism,” Dhillon is among the results.

“Dhillon went from being an icon of threat to Canadian identity to becoming an icon of Canadian identity. ”


After taking part in high-profile investigations such as the Air India bombing and the serial killings of Robert Pickton and developing expertise as a polygraph examiner and interviewer, Dhillon retired from the force in 2019 and took on a new role as a staff sergeant with B.C.’s Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, overseeing a program that aims to reduce gun violence.

Prior to his departure, the RCMP relaxed some of its uniform and dress policies, allowing members to wear their hair in a bun, ponytail or braid, to grow out their beards and to display tattoos. They also removed the requirement that members have to seek exemptions to wear faith-based headdresses, including turbans and hijabs, a move welcomed by Dhillon.

“When you give someone an exemption, in essence what you’re saying is you’re not exactly the same as everybody else,” he said.

Another thing he has been heartened by is the number of people who come up to him during his public-speaking engagements who say they were once opposed to the uniform accommodation but have since changed their minds.

“That’s the hope — that there’s opportunity for people to grow,” he said.

Dhillon says he believes there are now a few dozen RCMP members who wear turbans across the country.

Many of the people who led the campaign opposing the RCMP’s uniform change have since passed away. The Star did, however, reach some of their surviving family members.

Mansbridge’s son, John, said the “sentiments of 30 years ago don’t necessarily match with some of the thoughts of today.”

“Some of the points that were being made back then may still be relevant, but they’re drowned out by louder voices. I don’t think any of us want to be part of that, quite frankly.”

“The courts spoke,” he added, “and I think that’s probably the end of the issue for all of us.”

Riley’s daughter, Diana, said she still feels “proud” of her father for taking a stand for something he believed in.

“The only thing I myself remember and still to this day feel very proud of is that Dad believed in something and he believed in it strong enough to take the government to court,” she said.

Her father and the others weren’t opposed to having a diverse force, she said.

“Inclusivity wasn’t the problem. It was flashing the superior garb.”

Hipson, one of the makers of the offensive pins, said he had no regrets about his actions, calling it a “fun time” and an exercise in free speech.

“That was a big highlight for me. I was doing quite well with the pins. When this controversy came, it just opened up another one. I kind of enjoyed it.”

Hipson chuckled as he recalled some of his pin designs.

“Most people were laughing at it. I guess some people took it serious.”

Asked if his position on Mounties wearing turbans had changed in 30 years, he said it hadn’t.

“I still don’t think they should get preferential treatment.”

Reid Moseley, owner of the Calgary collectibles store that Dhillon visited, said he was proud of his collection of “politically incorrect” pins.

“My business is a collectors’ paradise, so I have been told by many of my customers. It represents the true history of our country, through the exhibit and sale of physical reminders of where our country came from.”

It is “sad” that such ignorance persists, Dhillon said when informed of the comments.

“To veil the hateful pins with the thought that they somehow represent the true history of our country is irresponsible,” he said.

“They were symbols of hate in 1990 and they remain that today.”

And to suggest that the debate over the right to wear turbans in the RCMP was a “fun time” is demeaning.

Such sentiment, he said, belongs to someone who hasn’t grasped what it means to be Canadian.

Source: Thirty years ago, he became the first Mountie to wear a turban. Here’s why he still worries about hate ‘in the shadows’

RCMP looks to redraft its entrance exam as it pushes for a more diverse police service

Of note. An appropriate review to assess the validity of criteria and the impact on recruitment. My earlier tweet generated some negative commentary from former RCMP members:

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is looking to scrub its entrance exam of cultural biases and “outdated criteria” as it tries to confront what’s been called its “toxic culture” and the problem of systemic racism in the ranks.

The RCMP posted a tender this week looking for a contractor to provide pre-screening exams for applicants. It’s part of the RCMP’s modernization plan, known as Vision 150, which also includes changes to the criteria for becoming an RCMP officer.

“A thorough review of these processes has determined that despite significant changes made to the processes and tools over the past decade, systemic challenges remain,” says the tender.

“Most notably, a gender-based analysis plus (GBA+) review of the current RCMP exams concluded that even when prospective applicants possess both the interest and qualifications, there is evidence that the exams themselves may create barriers to a diverse applicant pool. Outdated criteria, lacking strong supporting evidence, may result in high-potential candidates being unable, or unwilling, to apply.”

RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki has been signalling that changes are coming to the recruitment process. She told a House of Commons committee late last year that the force needs to better reflect the communities it serves.

“We’re looking at our organization as a whole, and we’re looking at those systems and those processes, those policies and procedures that will eliminate systemic racism,” she said in November.

“We are going to be testing for those types of behaviours that could negatively impact their interactions.”

RCMP faces a decline in applicants

The move to redraft the exam comes as the RCMP struggles with a staffing crunch — particularly when it comes to attracting candidates of colour.

As of April 1, 2020 (the most recent period for which statistics are available), just under 12 per cent of the RCMP’s 20,000 rank-and-file members identified as visible minority, according to figures posted online late last week. That figure hasn’t changed dramatically over the past few years and remained lower than the general rate in the workforce nationwide.

Source: RCMP looks to redraft its entrance exam as it pushes for a more diverse police service

‘Glaring gap’ in addressing anti-Indigenous and anti-Black racism in RCMP’s new ‘cultural humility’ course, experts say

While I respect all of the experts cited, and find some needed suggestions for improvements, most of these experts have an understandable activist orientation and the Star could have made more of an effort to broaden the range of experts consulted. Their critique of the overall “fluffiness” is, of course, valid but this is typical of so many government documents….:

A mandatory online training course called “Cultural Awareness and Humility” that was rolled out last fall for all RCMP members and touted by the commissioner as an example of the force’s efforts to modernize misses the mark on many levels, according to experts who have reviewed the program for the Star.

One glaring gap, they say, is the lack of content addressing institutionalized racism, particularly anti-Indigenous and anti-Black racism. Instead, the training emphasizes only implicit biases and reforming individual attitudes and behaviours.

Some noted that a section on the RCMP’s role in colonization was given short shrift — just three paragraphs.

One expert said a section dealing with how to avoid stereotyping in communications was so simplified it reminded her of course materials her nine-year-old daughter gets in school. Other sections, the experts said, contained outdated or confusing terminology.

“This does not increase accountability. A participant is simply given a certificate without needing to demonstrate any real change,” said Kanika Samuels-Wortley, a professor at Carleton University’s Institute of Criminology and Criminal Justice.

“We’ve got to ask, with all the calls for police reform and concerns over negative encounters with the police, can sitting in front of a computer, that involves no human interaction, produce change?”

In a statement to the Star, RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki said she was disappointed to hear the criticism, noting that the course is just one component of the force’s cultural learning strategy and was “not designed to single-handedly address systemic issues in the organization.”

“We consulted widely during the development of this training. I strongly believe that anything we can do to increase cultural awareness, sensitivity and humility is a benefit to the organization, and to the communities we serve.”

RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Caroline Duval added that a separate training course dealing with systemic racism, anti-racism and discrimination is in development “to address employees’ competency gaps in their ability to appropriately interact with racialized colleagues and the diverse communities the RCMP serves.”

“It will build the foundation for a common understanding of terminology, historical impacts, as well as disparities and inequities resulting from racism. Finally, it will introduce meaningful best practices for supporting people who have suffered as a result of racism. This includes being empathetic, recognizing the importance of learning about the needs of others and creating a culture of allyship.” 

Canada’s national police force has been under intense scrutiny over its internal culture and its policing of Indigenous Peoples and Black Canadians. Last year, Lucki drew criticism and calls for her resignation after saying in an interview that she struggled over the definition of systemic racism and its existence in her police force only to change course days later, acknowledging that “systemic racism is part of every institution, the RCMP included.”

The commissioner later told the Star she had listened and learned and that she had a plan to change the RCMP’s culture.

As part of that plan, she touted the cultural humility course.

How the program was made

The RCMP said the course was developed over a period of several months after consulting internally with its vulnerable-persons unit and gender-based violence working group and externally with an advisory council of elders and federal departments.

The Star paid $50 to access the training on an online repository for law-enforcement courses.

Its stated objectives include getting people to recognize how their personal beliefs and attitudes affect their daily interactions and perceptions; to respect differences in social and cultural norms in society; and to find ways to work with people from diverse backgrounds. Being open-minded and non-judgmental is a consistent theme.

The training, which consists of six modules and takes two to three hours to complete, is mostly text-based and laden with terminology, such as prejudice, bias, classism, ethnic stereotyping, microaggressions and intergenerational trauma, and their definitions.

The training includes interactive components, such as video clips of a residential school survivor and her grandson and a section in which officers are asked how they would respond to scenarios in which co-workers displayed racist or discriminatory behaviour.

Who assessed the course for the Star

To analyze the RCMP program, the Star turned to several people with backgrounds in issues of race, identity and criminal justice.

They were:

  • Kanika Samuels-Wortley, a professor at Carleton University’s Institute of Criminology and Criminal Justice;
  • Carl Everton James, a York University professor of education and that school’s senior adviser on equity and representation;
  • Mylene Jaccoud, a criminology professor at the University of Montreal, specializing in restorative justice and criminalization of Indigenous people; and
  • Shiri Pasternak, a criminology professor at Ryerson University specializing in settler colonialism.

What they saw

Right from the beginning, the program hits a flawed note, said Pasternak, pointing to a line in the preamble that states: “Systemic racism is a term that is now being commonly used and it is a reflection of a society’s failure to prioritize everyone’s needs.”

“No, systemic racism is about structures of oppression, it’s not a failure of society,” Pasternak said. (Later in the training, a page does define systemic racism as “the policies and practices of organizations, which directly or indirectly operate to sustain the advantages of certain ‘social races.’”)

The preamble goes on to say: “The RCMP has always worked to create safe communities. We have always worked to protect people’s Charterrights. Now we are being asked to recognize that not every member of Canadian society feels supported.”

Pasternak called that language harmful gaslighting, noting the RCMP’s role in forcibly removing children from their homes to attend residential schools and documented failures related to investigations into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

The first module of the training emphasizes the importance of respecting diversity, embracing a range of cultures and avoiding making assumptions based on first impressions.

Samuels-Wortley said this section bombards the participant with uncommon terminology. For instance, a chart outlines different responses to diversity, from “acceptance of diversity” to a “rejection of diversity.”

“It would have been simpler to just say ‘racism,’” she said.

“It is as though the training material goes out of the way to be gentle and not use terminology that could offend.”

Far too simple

In a module devoted to communication, participants are told to be aware of stereotyping in their language.

For instance, participants are told: “Don’t use words, images, and situations suggesting members of a racial group are the same: e.g. ‘Don’t expect Jo to be on time. Everyone from that culture is always late.’”

The training also urges avoidance of racial identifiers. “‘Ms. Woo, an attentive client,’ is preferable to, ‘Ms. Woo, an attentive Asian Canadian client.’ ”

Participants are told they are “not expected to know everything about all different cultures and groups of people.”

“Cultural humility sets an expectation to learn as much as you can, particularly about key groups of people you typically work with. When you don’t know, ask. It is important to be observant, respectful, and adapt your own behaviours where reasonable and possible.”

This entire section, Samuels-Wortley said, is very general and “does little to address the complexities of communication with peoples from different racial groups.”

Pasternak agreed.

“My daughter is nine years old and just did a similar unit in her class,” she said. “The module reviews in general are pitched extremely low, not pedagogically designed — from what I can tell — for any particular critical thinking.”

Significant Indigenous issues left unaddressed

One page in the course summarizes Canadian laws and RCMP policies dealing with culture and diversity, such as the Canadian Human Rights Act and the RCMP’s bias-free policing policy.

But Pasternak wrote in an email the page would have benefited by having a primer on Aboriginal jurisprudence.

“One of the problems when police enforce, e.g. injunctions, is that they seem to have no knowledge or understanding about Aboriginal rights. They see land defenders as lawless agitators, but have no context for the legal rights Indigenous people hold,” she said.

One of the six modules is devoted to “cultural awareness in Indigenous communities.”

It describes the uniqueness of Indigenous languages and their contributions to the “rich linguistic mosaic of Canada,” as well as the importance of Indigenous art, culture and heritage.

“Taking in the rich history of Indigenous art is a great way to celebrate the multi-layered cultural tapestry of the many diverse communities of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis,” participants are told.

It is within this section that the RCMP’s role in colonization is summarized in three paragraphs. Participants are told this may be a contributing factor to the “fear that some communities may have toward police.”

A page on the vulnerability of Indigenous women and girls is also summed up in three paragraphs. Participants are provided a link to an “essential” source of reading material: the final report of the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

For such important and necessary topics, Samuels-Wortley said, the coverage is “embarrassing.”

Pasternak agreed, saying parts of this section contained “the most generalized pablum.”

“What on earth is the point of this page?” she asked, referring to the page on arts, culture and heritage. “To say native art is good?”

The page on the RCMP’s role in colonization frames the harm and violence only in the past, “when it goes right up until the current moment,” she added.

‘Constructing the other’

Given that we live in an ethnoculturally diverse nation, participants are told there will be times when officers encounter language barriers. Data is cited showing the number of people in Canada who report being an immigrant or permanent resident has climbed to 22 per cent and could reach 30 per cent by 2036.

James said he was troubled that the discussion around diversity seemed to be framed only in terms of immigrant cultural backgrounds.

“What about the people who have been here two or three generations?” he asked.

“We have to move away from constructing the other.”

He also homed in on a page that broke down definitions for the terms “ethnic group,” “ethnic minority” and “ethnic stereotyping.”

“Ethnic minority” is defined in the course as a group within a community that has different national or cultural traditions from the main population.

James said he would revise this. Look at South Africa, he said. The majority were Black but they were the minority because they were not part of the political power structure.

Calling out racism

The final module of the training consists of a variety of everyday scenarios in which a co-worker demonstrates problematic behaviour. Participants are asked how they would respond.

In one scenario, a colleague is overheard speaking on the phone with a citizen who smells smoke in the neighbourhood and is concerned it’s marijuana.

“You and your colleague know that the community centre hosts traditional blessing ceremonies/purification rites known as smudging that are performed by some Indigenous groups and are the real cause of the smoke and the smell that is being reported. As you listen to your colleague on the phone, he explains to the citizen, ‘Yes, they are burning sage. You know, it’s that stuff you put in spaghetti sauce. But, they are using it for smudging.’”

Participants are advised that should they face such a scenario, they should tell their co-worker he has “minimized the importance of the ceremony.”

“You can provide him with information about the significance of smudging and that in many First Nations or Métis communities, this ceremony can be tied to healing, cleansing and blessing.”

But Samuels-Wortley questions how likely it is that officers will confront fellow officers like this, noting it has been established there is a “culture of silence” within policing wherein officers do not feel protected, if they raise concerns.

Take-aways

The training program has “good intent,” but likely “few impacts,” said Jaccoud.

She said the training reminded her of cultural awareness training programs used in the 1980s to try to address overrepresentation of Indigenous people in the corrections system.

“You will never resolve structural problems with cultural programs,” she said.

Pasternak agreed it is not enough to treat this as a cultural competency issue.

“My overall take is that there isn’t any possibility that this course could make any positive difference in the policing of Indigenous people,” she said.

What is the ultimate objective of this training, Samuels-Wortley asked. 

“If it is to address concerns over police use of force, discretionary police arrests, to increase trust in the police among members of Black, Indigenous or racialized communities, this training does little to address any of these issues.”

The experts said the training program’s focus on individual ideas, attitudes and behaviours and raising self-awareness ignores how an institution’s culture can influence individuals within that institution.

“What about the institution of the RCMP — the structure on which it’s built and how much that structure probably also needs to go through the necessary changes in order to understand and incorporate the diversity of the people to be served?” asked James.

“That needs to be unpacked.”

James says there is merit to the training, but he’s curious what is done after the training is over to reinforce what was learned.

“I think there’s some worth to it, it provides information. But what do you do beyond this? What additional engagement do they have? What conversations do they have?” he said.

Duval, the RCMP spokesperson, said the force believes its cultural humility course is an important part of “advancing reconciliation and issues of systemic racism.”

Besides developing a separate anti-racism course, she said, the force is also preparing a timeline that outlines the historical relationship between the force and Indigenous people, training for front-line officers in restorative justice as a way to eliminate the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in custody, and courses focusing on “newcomers, immigrants and refugees.”

Source: https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2021/02/16/we-found-the-rcmps-cultural-humility-training-course-and-asked-4-experts-to-review-it-for-us-heres-what-they-said.html

RCMP Quietly Releases Race-Based Data Showing Number Of Black Employees

Now that this data is available, good to see it becoming requested. One suggestion for requesters, whether parliamentarians, journalists, academics or others: ask for data for all visible minority groups in order to have needed context for each visible minority group, as knowing whether Black public servants are over or under-represented compared to not visible minority can either overstate or understate representation issues:

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) quietly released employment statistics showing 1.5 per cent of regular members in officer roles identify themselves as Black.

The data was disclosed in a document tabled in the House of Commons last week in response to a written question submitted by NDP MP Jack Harris in October.

Harris sits on the House’s public safety committee currently studying systemic racism in policing in Canada. In an order paper question, he asked the RCMP to provide demographic details about employees and asked for statistics about staff who self-identify as Indigenous, Black or “another visible minority.”

According to the document, of the permanent, regular RCMP members, 1.6 per cent described themselves as being of “mixed origin” as of Oct. 27, 2020. Slightly more employees who self-identified as Black hold non-police officer roles.

There are two categories of non-officer roles: civilian members and public service employees. Though both are considered public service workers, the distinction between them is determined by the conditions of their employment.

Civilian members, such as psychologists and 9-1-1 dispatchers, are hired under the RCMP Act, while public service workers are hired under the Public Service Employment Act.

Approximately 19,000 police officers are employed by the RCMP, according to the national police force. As of last year, just over 3,400 people were employed as civilian employees and nearly 7,700 people as public service employees.

Among public service employees, slightly more people (1.8 per cent) identified themselves as Black. One per cent of respondents self-described as “mixed origin.”

Among civilian members, the number is lower. Less than one per cent (0.9 per cent) of civilian members self-identified as Black, and 1.2 per cent as “mixed origin.”

The disaggregated data gives new insight into the RCMP’s demographics.

Source: RCMP Quietly Releases Race-Based Data Showing Number Of Black Employees

RCMP’s diversity hiring remains stagnant, new figures show

Ongoing challenge:

The head of the RCMP has promised to “double down” on efforts to boost diversity among its officers — but newly available statistics show those efforts haven’t borne fruit over the past decade.

The recently released diversity statistics come as the national police force grapples with a fierce debate over systemic racism in the ranks and claims that it policies racialized Canadians differently.

As of April 1, 2020, just under 12 per cent of the RCMP’s 20,000 rank-and-file members identify as visible minority, according to figures posted online late last week. That figure hasn’t changed dramatically over the past few years and remained lower than the general rate in the workforcenationwide.

Source: RCMP’s diversity hiring remains stagnant, new figures show