A group of young Indigenous people from across the country got the chance to check out what police work is like.
29 candidates graduated from the summer 2022 session of the RCMP's Indigenous Pre-Cadet Training Program (IPTP) on Friday.
It was the first three-week session for First Nations, Inuit and Métis people aged 19 to 29 at the RCMP Academy, in Regina, Sask., since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
"It's probably one of the best feelings I have ever felt," said Kila Pigeon, a participant from Kamloops in British Columbia on the day of graduation.
"I am so proud of all my troop mates and how far everyone has come over the past three weeks, and how far I've come as an individual."
While her time at the RCMP Academy in Regina, also known as Depot Division, is over for now, it's Pigeon's dream to one day put on the red serge and become a Mountie, she said.
From a 1999 graduate to the coordinator of the program
Cpl. Maureen Greyeyes-Brant remembers the feeling of graduating from the Indigenous Pre-Cadet Training Program.
The Plains Cree woman from Muskeg Lake Cree Nation in Saskatchewan participated in the training in 1999.
"Having the opportunity to run the program that brought me into the RCMP is an honour and a privilege," said Greyeyes-Brant, who is the national coordinator of the IPTP, and who works with the RCMP Indigenous Collaboration, Co-Development, and Accountability unit in Ottawa.
"I love being able to mentor Indigenous individuals who are thinking about a career in law enforcement."
It's "phenomenal," she said, to watch the young candidates develop and change throughout the three weeks.
During the program at the RCMP Academy, participants learned about different career specializations within the organization as well as the training required to become a police officer. They studied policing techniques and met with Indigenous officers, according to the RCMP's website.
Upon completion of the program, candidates interested in choosing a career path with the Mounties receive ongoing support and guidance, the RCMP says.
"I think having Indigenous representation within the organization is a plus," said Greyeyes-Brant.
"We need our communities to see themselves in us, and we need to increase the Indigenous membership within the organization…. At some point I'm going to retire and hopefully one of these individuals will come in and replace me at the meeting tables."