The Police Mkwa Opportunity Education Circle has been extremely successful in achieving planned results. As of 2009, 141 Aboriginal youth have participated in the program, and 116 police officers have lined up for an opportunity to participate as mentors. Together, we took positive steps to encourage Aboriginal students to explore policing and the criminal justice system as a viable and rewarding career pathway to success. In addition, participating police officers receive valuable knowledge of the Aboriginal culture and also gain a better understanding of Aboriginal youth. As a result of the program, the police service has built stronger Aboriginal-police relationships in the community. As well, the Greater Sudbury Police Service successfully recruited and hired three Aboriginal police officers in 2006.
The philosophy behind the Police Mkwa Opportunity Education Circle is simple. If the police profession is to build trust and understanding where it previously did not exist, we must be willing to walk a path together. If we are to improve Aboriginal-police relations, improve officer's knowledge and understanding of the Aboriginal culture, and attract young Aboriginal people into the police profession, we must see each other as equals, regardless of our heritage, status, or title and set the example for what is possible in our community, our province, and our country.
Every police officer entering into the GSPS is exposed to Aboriginal history and educated in cultural competencies. The Seven Grandfather Teachings are featured prominently in the police service building line-up room.
With the most recent class, over 100 students will have completed the program. MKWA has received widespread recognition and awards locally, provincially, nationally, and internationally. Every police student graduating from the Ontario Police College is exposed to the program with a focus on aboriginal history as well as current challenges and opportunities of aboriginal people. The first ever Aboriginal Recruitment Video in Canada was developed to target aboriginal youth for the police service profession.
The GSPS every year has played an important role in the Aboriginal Secondary School Graduation Awards as a Gold Sponsor and arranges community support and gifts, such as a laptop computer. The Police Chief's Youth Initiative Fund gives computers to needy youth and also financially supports youth initiatives.
Personal relationships between aboriginal people and the police have resulted, and trust has increased. It is common to see the youth and police officers together in the station sharing a special unprecedented relationship. Many MKWA students are now in post-secondary education with a goal of attaining employment in the criminal justice system. Many others have attributed their personal success in part to the program and have shared some very personal stories of triumph. The GSPS has for the first time in many years hired a number of aboriginal police officers and civilian members.
This program, although very difficult to build, is simple in construct and fills a long-needed mentoring role that is easily duplicated for other professional environments.
- Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police Community Mobilization Award - 2005
- The Ministry of Justice - National Youth Justice Policing Award, Certificate of Distinction - 2006
- Human Rights and Race Relations Centre - Gold Medal Award, Excellence in Community Service - 2007
- International Association of Chiefs of Police Webber Seavey Award—Quality and Excellence in Law Enforcement, Top 10 finalist - 2007
- Hired 4 Aboriginal Police Officers, 106 students successfully completed program