by Charlotte Tarver–Four Mounties in their red serge dress uniforms greeted over 80 people to the opening of the new RCMP Community Policing Office in Skidegate Thursday.
Skidegate Chief Dempsey Collison, CHN President Guujaaw, Skidegate Band Councillor Richard Russ and Sgt. Pebernat of the Aboriginal Policing Services of Vancouver spoke of their expectations for improving relations between the Haida and the police by having an RCMP office in Skidegate.
“I’m glad to see the Mounties put an office here. Their presence will bring closer and cosier feelings between the Haida and the RCMP,” said CHN President Guujaaw. “I notice this is an office and not a lock-up,” he added.
“We have seen a spike in crimes here in the past years, there have been break-ins at elders’ homes. We feel having the RCMP in the community will help stop this,” said Richard Russ.
Sgt. Neil Hogg, QC detachment commander, said the office took about two years to put together and congratulated Constable Jay Wessel for his efforts. Constable Wessel thanked SHIP elders for their help, for giving the Haida name for the office and to Gwaii Trust and others for funding.
Following the blessing of the office by Elder Jackie Casey and a song by the elders from SHIP, everyone attending was invited into the office for refreshments. Comfortable chairs, a couch, an easy chair and a large table lent a relaxed and inviting atmosphere to the room that will be used by the people of Skidegate when meeting or talking with the RCMP.
The office will be open Mondays from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m., Wednesdays 3 to 5 p.m. and Fridays from 6 to 8 p.m. The RCMP will also open the office as needed when people call and ask the RCMP to come to Skidegate.
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