This transcript was taken from the BC Legislature’s website.
Pacific Association of First Nations Women
D. Day: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you so much for this opportunity. My name is Diana Day, I’m from the Oneida Nation, which is part of the Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy.
I’m so honoured and pleased to be working and living and playing on the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh shared territories. For thousands and thousands and thousands of years, they’ve held this land, in the pristine condition it was up until contact. I’m just thinking about all of the devastation that we’ve seen around our territories and how important it is to uphold the rights and responsibilities of our people in this territory.
I was really feeling the need to have a submission to this police reform. It’s so important that we do provide input for First Nations, as our people have been impacted by colonization and by the tragic treatment that we’ve been receiving from the police since contact. We all know about all of the terrible things that have happened to our people since contact and how the police were put in to ensure that our people are oppressed.
We’re finding that, moving forward — 2021, 2022 — this doesn’t work for our people. We have a lot of need to have input into this. So I did a three-page submission. It’s not very long. I wanted to make sure that…. there are some important parts that we want to make sure that our people are treated fairly and with respect and with dignity. That’s one of the things that our association is mandated to do. It’s to advocate for systems change for our women and the families that they manage and that they work with.
One of the important things that we want to see happen is we want to see screening from the police force — from all levels, whether it’s the janitors, the sergeants, the chief of police. We want to have a mental health screening, because we know that racism is part of the mental health spectrum and thinking about people who are racist and how they have a different mindset and how we need to acknowledge that. It’s a reality that we face in 2021 that we have these individuals with these racist mindsets in our systems — in all of our systems. It’s not their fault, because our education system does not provide the true history. The truth has been hidden from our people — from our people and from mainstream since contact. But we really have to change this system.
The first thing that we want to see happen is we want to see screening. We’ve done enough training. We’ve trained enough. We spent so much money on training for these officers, and we know that we can’t train somebody who has an ingrained mindset. We want to see mental health screening of all officers and all staff. Board members need to screen these people, and we need to remove them from the force if they’re anti-Indigenous, anti-Black. We have to stop this racism and discrimination from happening to our people, because we have the brunt of it.
Going along with that, I was quite surprised to learn that we don’t have enough Indigenous staff within the force, so we need to change that as well. We need to ensure that we have Indigenous staff throughout the police force, throughout every police force — all the way up. Down and up, we need to have Indigenous staff.
I was quite shocked that with the Vancouver police department, we have minimal…. Not even 1 percent of our police force…. That 10 percent is not even Indigenous. We have one Indigenous liaison position, and she’s not an Indigenous person.
This needs to change. It’s 2021. We need to ensure that we have Indigenous officers, investigators on the investigation team. There are none. There are none, so it’s no wonder that we don’t have the priority, that our people, our complaints, are not being prioritized, because there’s no one there who’s looking out for us. We need to change that. We need to make sure that we have staff who are Indigenous, who are connected to community as well, because we can’t just put somebody in there with a title who might have status but has no connection to community — no connection.
We have to have people that have connection to community employed within the police force that can make some positive change. We don’t see that happening. It’s certainly not happening in Vancouver. I’m sure it’s not happening in the rest of the regions as well.
I really want to make that strong call — that we’re not going to see any kind of change if we don’t have our people in there making the changes. It’s not going to happen.
My submission was just three pages long. Those are the really important components, so I really want to stress that if we want to see any changes, we’re going to have to do those things. We’re going to have to screen out those people who are racist, and we’re going to have to employ our own people in there — at all levels. So enough with the training.
We need body cameras, as well, for those officers that are working with our people. They say they don’t have money, a fund for that, but they can sell some of their toys. They’ve got ATVs, all-terrain vehicles, here running around the beaches. We need to have body cameras so that our people can be safe and protected.
Those are some of the things that we’d like to see happen. I’m so thankful that we have an opportunity to share this information with you. We also wanted to support the submissions made by Feminists Deliver, by UBCIC and by B.C. Civil Liberties. All of those agencies are really important partners with us, and we want to make sure that all of those submissions are supported and are heard.
Thank you for listening. Now I’ll go.
D. Routley (Chair): Thank you.