North Island First Nations nominate RCMP officer for Reconciliation Award

·2 min read

Port Hardy’s former cop Chris Voller has been nominated for a BC Reconciliation Award by his former boss Sgt. Wes Olsen and the four local First Nations and the District of Port Hardy.

Kwakiutl, Quatsino, Gwa’sala and ‘Nakwaxda’xw First Nations unanimously recommended to put forth Voller’s name for the award. The nomination package was in process when they found out Olsen had already submitted Voller’s name, so the four Nations and Port Hardy Council teamed up and added their support Olsen’s bid.

Voller spent nine years on the North Island between Port McNeill and Port Hardy, before finishing his term last October.

He saw reconciliation as a key priority for RCMP officers, a necessary relationship building as a key to successful community policing in the area, and directed his team to become part of the communities they serve, and to approach law enforcement as proactively, as opposed to re-actively, whenever possible.

He was frequently seen at community gatherings, developed friendships with First Nations leaders, and supported Indigenous-led initiatives such as the Managed Alcohol Program and the Indigenous Court.

READ MORE: Officer Chris Voller says farewell to the North Island

READ MORE: Port Hardy Mounties help First Nation chief build smokehouse

Created last November by the BC Achievement Foundation and the Lieutenant Governor’s office, this is the first round of nominations for the award.

Winners will be announced in the spring of 2021, chosen by a committee of elders, First Nations leaders and representatives from the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. All the adjudicators are Indigenous people.

The award is not about winners as it is having models of excellence to share with B.C., encouraging more similar actions, said BC Achievement Foundation Executive Director Cathryn Wilson.

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Zoë Ducklow, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Island Gazette