Another giant step
Number of Inuit RCMP members rising
POND INLET (Sep 06/99) - Charlie Audlakiak is following in his grandfather's footsteps.
In doing so, he's taking a big step towards ensuring that the RCMP become more sensitive to the needs of the people who live in the territory they've been hired to police.
If it all sounds like a pretty big accomplishment for one man, rest assured -- it is.
"I feel great," said Audlakiak, just a week after moving to Pond Inlet and making the transition from the rank of community constable to that of constable in Nunavut's V Division of the RCMP.
"I enjoy working in the force. It's a very interesting career and sometimes I meet Inuit from other countries like Greenland and Alaska. I like to meet other people," said Audlakiak, whose interest in policing was first piqued by his grandfather, Nookiguak.
"My grandfather was one of the very first special constables in Pannirtuuq in the 1930s and 1940s. He was one of the very first Inuk members. I thought about it and I looked at my relatives and none of us seemed to be in the force as our grandfather was. That's how I started to become interested in 1987," said Audlakiak.
Signing on in 1989 as a special constable, he was converted to the rank of community constable in 1991, when the first program ceased to exist. For the next six years of his RCMP career, Audlakiak served in Iqaluit until the stress, lack of sleep and refusal of a transfer pushed him to ask for a three-year leave of absence.
"I found that if you stay in one settlement for more than five years, you burn out more easily. That's what I did," said Audlakiak, who spent the next year relaxing with his family and hunting.
The draw to the force lured him back, and in 1996, Audlakiak resumed his role as a community constable in Qikiqtarjuaq. Born and bred in that community, he noted that he particularly enjoys serving and protecting the unilingual Inuit that southern or non-Inuit members often have difficulty conversing with.
"Working with the people in the communities who don't speak any English, like the elders who taught me about culture and tradition, the Inuit, I love to work with them."
Sgt. Glen Siegersma, planning NCO and media relations officer in Iqaluit, said that Audlakiak's success meant a lot to the force and its effectiveness.
Siegersma also noted that the all-Inuit troop of recruits currently undergoing training in Regina was doing extremely well and that additional cadets were being lined up for the six-month program.
Of the 100 currently filled positions in the V division, 12 are held by members of Inuit heritage.