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Canada's Apartheid, by John Stackhouse
Stories
Introduction
  Nov. 3

Welcome to Harlem on the Prairies
  Nov. 3 (Saskatoon, SK)

Crystal's choice: The best of both worlds
  Nov. 5 (Mississauga, ON)

How the Mi'kmaq profit from fear
  Nov. 6 (Cape Breton, NS)

The healing power of hockey
  Nov. 7 (The Pas, MB)

Norma Rae of the Okanagan
  Nov. 8 (Westbank, BC)

Comic genius or 'niggers in red face'?
  Nov. 9 (Regina, SK)

Praying for a miracle
  Nov. 10 (Lac Ste. Anne, AB)

To have and to have not
  Nov. 12 (Moosonee, ON)

Trouble in paradise
  Nov. 19 (Tofino, BC)

A cut of the action
  Nov. 26 (Wabigoon, ON)

The young and the restless
  Dec. 3 (Ashern, MB)

The wireless warrior's digital dream
  Dec. 10 (Ottawa,ON)

'Everyone thought we were stupid'
  Dec. 14 (Salluit, QC)

First step: End the segregation
  Dec. 15 (Last in the series)

 

Welcome to Harlem on the Prairies

Story by John Stackhouse. Photos by John Morstad
The Globe and Mail, November 3, 2001

Part 8 of 9: CHANGING THE FACE OF SASKATOON'S FORCE


Saskatoon, SK Despite Joseph's tirades, which many police officers believe led to their chief being fired, the force says it has tried to change its personnel and its culture. Of its 328 staff, 35 are native - about the same proportion as Saskatoon's resident population. Moreover, 18 of the 94 constables hired since 1996 are native, although none speaks a native language fluently or has strong ties to the local native community.

Recruiting young natives isn't easy, says Nyirfa, the force's aboriginal liaison officer. They tend to see the police as "the enemy."

Making a difficult situation worse, Saskatoon must compete with the RCMP and every other police force in Western Canada, and do so with a meagre budget. The Calgary police force recently toured reserves in northern Saskatchewan, offering recruits 10 per cent more pay than they would get in Saskatoon, on top of Alberta's lower tax rate.

Still, there are signs of progress. In September, the police placed a full-time officer in Saskatoon's only aboriginal high school. Next year, the force hopes to get funds for a native elder to work with it.

Senior officers are also attending powwows, feasts and sweat-lodge ceremonies, and in the summer going on biking and canoe trips with native youths and members of the Saskatoon Tribal Council. And the force is working with social agencies to help the most vulnerable urban Indians - girl prostitutes - to get off the street by arranging housing and jobs for them.

Bill Thibodeau, director of Egadz Centre, a Métis and former street kid who now runs his own youth agency on the west side, says the police may be the least of the problems he sees. When the cops rough up kids, he says, they do so regardless of colour - and usually, he adds, with good reason. "We've never had a kid come back and say they were crapped all over because they were native."
THIS STORY AT A GLANCE (Parts 1 to 9 plus related stories and links):


Photo Essay
On the beat


1. Welcome to Harlem on the Prairies
Ride along with Constables Jim Louttits and Dean Hoover as they arrest a regular

2. A city divided
Allegations of rampant police abuse and complaints from the force about the native community

3. To serve and protect
Two Saskatoon police officers find themselves caught between cultures and responsible to both

Reader feedback
Check out what readers had to say about Welcome to Harlem on the Prairies.
4. The Indian's cop and the cowboy
A partnership restricted to work and focused on the task at hand

5. Keeping the peace
At 3 a.m., the shift gets busy

6. The stereotypes of 20th Street
Social agencies fight against the economics of poverty
7. Division among the Chiefs
Some leaders see police as problem, others look to the system
8. Changing the face of Saskatoon's force
Recruiting natives isn't easy - they see police as 'the enemy'
9. Daylight breaks
'Policing by its very nature means force because you're making people comply'

Related stories and links
Background information and surfing opportunities


 
 

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Two worlds - photo essay


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