Winnipeg Police officers showed up at an event on Thursday held to raise awareness about missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, and one officer said she believes it is important that police take part in those kinds of events, as they look to strengthen their relationship with Indigenous people and communities.
Members of the Winnipeg Police Service’s (WPS) Community Engagement office were in attendance at an event at Winnipeg City Hall on Thursday held to recognize the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada.
The officers in attendance also wore temporary red arm badges, a move that WPS Superintendent of Community Engagement Bonnie Emerson said was done to show “support and solidarity” with the family and friends of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
“It is important that we attend these types of event, and it is important that we listen,” Emerson said. “When we attend events like this it is an opportunity to engage with communities.
“As Winnipeg Police, we are always looking at how we can engage, so these are opportunities for us to get embedded into these communities.”
Emerson said that Winnipeg Police have been working recently to create strategies and positions to work with Indigenous communities and to work specifically with family members of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
In December, WPS announced that they had hired Angie Tuesday to work in the role of Family Support and Resource Advocate to support the families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, and Emerson said that Angie now works as a “bridge” between police and family members of victims.
“She works directly with families, and she is an employee of the police service, but a civilian employee, and she supports and advocates for families and connects families directly to police and to our investigators,” Emerson said.
Emerson said she believes that police officers in Canada also have an obligation to show up at events like the one on Thursday to raise awareness about the scope of the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
“We are here to support the community, and a big part of that is acknowledging as a police service and as a nation that this is a national tragedy,” she said.
— Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.
Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun