Aboriginal officers wanted
RCMP opportunity focuses on Nunavut communities

by Jennifer Pritchett
Northern News Services

NNSL (NOV 15/96) - The RCMP is launching an aggressive campaign to recruit more aboriginal members for and from Nunavut.

While the initiative is Canada-wide, the NWT now has a special recruiting officer to attract more Inuit to the force by 1999.

Const. Jimmy Akavak, who has been with the RCMP for 12 years, is heading the project in the North. He says they want to hire at least 16 officers before 1999, but they are hoping to find even more.

"The RCMP is always looking for more aboriginal officers," he says. "But with Nunavut coming up in 1999, we are hoping to have Inuit officers helping out. We want them to bridge the gap."

Institutions across the Arctic are hiring more aboriginals, and Akavak says the RCMP wants to do its part.

"My job is to try and reach the Inuit, but they are looking for aboriginal officers across the country," he says.

There are only 10 RCMP officers with an aboriginal background currently stationed in the NWT.

Akavak hopes this will change soon.

"I already have people on the list," he says.

They will have to go through the same training as other officers -- six months in Regina and six months on-the- job training at a post in the North.

The training is free, with airfare paid by RCMP, and the cadets also receive a training allowance.

"They have the same program with the same benefits as everyone else," he says.

Akavak, who grew up in Kimmirut (Lake Harbour), says he will be able to relate his experience to new officers. The incentive, however, has to come from the person who wants to join, he says.

"It's not all fun and games, but there are some rewards," he says. "The willingness to help people has to be there. If it's not, it's not going to work."