Police launch moose hunt pilot program for Indigenous youth
SUDBURY -- A unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity will soon get underway for Indigenous youth and youth in transition.
It's a pilot project spearheaded by the Greater Sudbury Police Service in conjunction with the province and various indigenous partner agencies.
The main goal is to offer those who otherwise would not have the chance to participate in a typical hunting experience, while at the same time, fostering positive relationships with police.
"There are going to be six participants, two from each agency partnered with one officer and one agency mentor so there will be three hunting groups, this will be in September over a weekend," said Const. Darrel Rivers, the Greater Sudbury Police Service Indigenous Liaison Officer.
Rivers said the goal is to create a safe space. They're also hoping to break down barriers.
"We're hoping from this program they'll gain a sense of self-confidence and some courage to move forward, given some of the situations that they are in," he said.
"By having someone who's in a position of authority from your police services, for sure you come in with a stigma attached," said Darrell Boissoneau, of Nogdawindamin Family and Community Services.
Work on stigmas
"This is to work on those stigmas and create greater awareness between the Anishinabek community and the police services that are out there."
Participating non-Indigenous officers will get a first-hand opportunity to learn about their culture.
Rivers said police also want to show these youth that police officers are normal people who have hobbies and lives outside of work.
"This is something that is so important - especially for those children that have struggled in life and have been moved away from their culture," said Perry McLeod-Shabogesic, of Niijaansinaanik Child and Family Services.
"We have the same common goals as what we're trying to do -- even though we might be in different places, but we are striving for the same direction," said Jim Fox, of Kina Gbehzgomi Child and Family Services.
It's a direction that includes mutual respect, culture and inclusivity.