Abolish RCMP

Already this year, the RCMP killed Rodney Levi, beat Chief Allan Adam, and violently removed Wet'suwet'en people from their own land.
These violent actions come on the back of a social awakening to police violence perpetrated against the Black community and following numerous instances of brutality perpetuated by municipal police forces on Indigenous peoples.
It’s time to end our reliance on the RCMP -- a violent organization that was created to terrorize Indigenous people like me.

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The recent string of violence and killings of Indigenous women, youth, men and leaders at the hands of RCMP officers highlights the need to defund with a mind to abolishing the RCMP. This call mirrors those calls of the Black Lives Matter movement to defund and abolish policing institutions within the US and Canada, and is supported by localized calls by Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) communities to defund and abolish Canadian municipal police forces.

My name... is Matthew Norris and I am Nehithaw-Cree from Treaty 6 territory, though I live and work on the unceded traditional territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations in Vancouver, BC. In my lifetime, I have observed, and heard tell of, countless acts of violence by the RCMP towards Indigenous peoples and communities.

The RCMP was created in the 1870s as a paramilitary organization to, amongst other things, deal with the so-called “Indian problem”. The RCMP played a significant role in the enforcement of Indian Reserves, the imposition of Indian Residential Schools, the apprehension of Indigenous children from their families, and the enforcement of bans on language and culture. Since its inception, the mounted police are characterized by systemic racism and discrimination. To date the organization has never been required to reckon with this history. As a result, systemic racism continues to inform how this organization interacts with Indigenous peoples, whereby their impositions upon Indigenous peoples and their communities is too often informed by violence, death, skepticism and doubt.

We need to recognize that Indigenous peoples have a different relationship with the RCMP than many Canadians do. While many perceive the institution as a symbol of safety and security, many Indigenous peoples see the RCMP through a lens of fear, violence, mistrust and oppression. The RCMP fundamentally lacks the trust of many Indigenous peoples, and no amount of reform or cultural competency training is going to change that. This is an institution that needs to be abolished, while the rights of Indigenous peoples to self-determination, self-governance and the ability to determine their own justice institutions need to be recognized insofar as they need to be fully engaged in designing, implementing and controlling the institution or institutions required to replace the RCMP.

The time to have this discussion has never been more urgent. A few months ago, we found out from leaked internal RCMP documents that the police were prepared to shoot and kill Wet’suwet’en land defenders protecting territories and way of life from the construction of a natural gas pipeline on behalf of TC Energy Corporation. Two weeks ago, I cringed at the video of the gruesome assault of Chief Allan Adam by RCMP officers. Last week, I mourned the death of a Mi’kmaq man, Rodney Levi, who was shot and killed by the RCMP.

We need to bring forward solutions to address these issues to end the senseless violence of the RCMP and imagine a new way towards justice and equality. The enforcement model the RCMP has adopted is dated and antiquated. The RCMP have been given every opportunity to reform, build trust, and end the disproportionate use of violence against Indigenous peoples and other marginalized communities.

Please sign my petition calling on the Government of Canada to abolish the RCMP.

The murder of George Floyd and the tireless activism of black leaders, activists and allies, sparked an awakening into mainstream consciousness about the need to defund and begin a process to abolish the police. This need has been tragically reaffirmed by countless other murders of Black people at the hands of the police in the United States in the last few weeks, and the deaths of Regis Korchinski-Paquet in Toronto and Rodney Levi and Chantel Moore in New Brunswick. More and more people are seeing that the only way to prevent these deaths is to eliminate the institutions that cause them -- the police.

Indigenous people have been calling on the government of Canada to recognize the systemic discrimination and racism that pervades the RCMP for decades. We need new solutions that focus on justice, reconciliation, community safety, mental health safeguards and poverty reductions strategies without the use of violence and fear.

It's clear that reforms to RCMP practices, protocols or processes are ineffective. This institution was created without the input of Indigenous peoples and other marginalized communities, the very same communities that are disproportionally subjected to discrimination, violence, and oppression by the police force. We need to dismantle this institution and recreate a new response to issues of societal concern with the full partnership of the communities who are being impacted, with full recognition of the rights of Indigenous peoples.

If Canada is truly going to have reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, reforms to a police force that was built to oppress us won’t do. What we need is a new approach to public safety organization.

Add your name to the call for the Government of Canada to abolish the RCMP and to commit to a process to establish a new approach to public safety in full recognition of the internationally recognized human rights of Indigenous peoples.

The work by Black Lives Matter movements in the US and Canada has already led to some real changes in city police departments, and I hold my hands up to these leaders who have very literally put their lives on the line in their calls for change. I fully support these movements and initiatives.

This is the first time I have partnered with SumOfUs. Day-to-day, I am busy launching a new grassroots initiative called the Vancouver Just Recovery Coalition, an informal, Vancouver-based, collective advocating for post-COVID rebuilding and recovery prioritizing social justice, human rights and climate action. I am also the Vice President of the Urban Native Youth Association, a front-line community-based organization, using an Indigenous worldview in the provision of services and programs to Vancouver’ Indigenous youth.

Both organizations are small and the team at SumOfUs thinks that you might be interested in our work. Please check out my organizations and consider joining us and chipping in:

Vancouver Just Recovery Coalition
Urban Native Youth Association

Sign the petition

In solidarity,
Matthew Norris with support from Angus and Amelia at SumOfUs

More information:

'It's putting a Band-Aid on a broken leg': Indigenous leaders say police training inept, join calls to defund, CBC, Jun 13, 2020
Exclusive: Canada police prepared to shoot Indigenous activists, documents show , Guardian, Dec 20, 2020

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