On April 30, 2021, Feminists Deliver submitted the following statement to the Special Committee on Reforming the Police Act. The role of the Special Committee was to make recommendations to the Legislative Assembly on reforms related to the modernization and sustainability of policing under the Police Act (R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 367); the role of police with respect to complex social issues including mental health and wellness, addictions and harm reduction; the scope of systemic racism within BC’s police agencies; and whether there are measures necessary to ensure a modernized Police Act is consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007).
Feminists Deliver is a grassroots collaboration of BC-based Two-Spirit people, non-binary folks, Indigiqueer, trans women, lesbian women, and cis women and girls, and the more than 25 organizations that support them. We centre intersectional feminism, anti-oppression and decolonization in our practice. We are responding to the call of the Special Committee on Reforming the Police Act to share our views on public safety and policing.
One of the first organized policing models that we know of today was established in the United Kingdom in the early 1800s with the Royal Irish Constabulary, a paramilitary police force the British created to keep Irish people under control. Sir John A. Macdonald, a British man who became the first prime minister of colonial Canada took inspiration and established what is now known as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). The RCMP were created to enforce colonization, clearing the lands of, and controlling Indigenous peoples.
It is horrifying how a white supremacist, Anglo-Saxon-centred institution notorious for enforcing more than 300 years of oppression still continue to persist and garner support despite its track record for injustice. In reality, other perspectives exist. Global Indigenous perspectives on justice including perspectives rooted in Turtle Island as well as in Africa, need to be considered. Policing in Canada did not exist prior to colonization, and an anti-oppressive society need not rely on an institution created to colonize, divide, dehumanize, and annihilate what they believe are barriers to upholding the current systems.
If this government is committed to reconciliation, justice, and redress as often as it speaks of it, we urge the Special Committee to centre the experiences of people most affected. Law enforcement has demonstrated relentless violence which expands over generations, most especially subjugating Black and Indigenous women, as well as transgender peoples. Their voices need to be prioritized and is fundamental in eliminating violence. We expect you to implement the calls to action as outlined in The Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry Calls for Justice, The Truth and Reconciliation: Commission of Canada: Calls to Action, and the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre Red Women Rising report.
It is time.