Lasha Morningstar

WE ARE ONE

February 9, 2015

The station manager at the television station where I was working many years ago came over with a watchful look on his face. He handed me a sheet. It was the RCMP's anniversary. The number of years I have forgotten.

What the manager was offering was some freelance apart from my regular work. The job? Write two-minute scripts about the Mounties for radio.

Fresh out of SAIT and strapped for money, I said a quick "Sure."

But that was before Google. So I hit the library in my off-hours. The books were old and had the look of not being checked out much, if ever. Musty.

I opened them just before going to bed at night. I have no idea what I was expecting to find. But I was surprised. Certainly some of the books were dry, facts and figures only.

But then there were the texts that told of men coming over to the colonies to join the then North-West Mounted Police, which had been modeled on the Royal Irish Constabulary. They were directed to chase away the whiskey traders, rail in the wild-and-woolly gold rush prospectors and collect taxes.

ROYAL ENDORSEMENT

The force's name evolved in 1904 and "Royal" was added.

Certainly the Mounties were cited for violence in the general strike in Winnipeg in 1919, the coal miners' strike in 1931 and various other actions.

But some of the texts included the other side of these men's lives. These were the men who cared for the First Nations people when they were sick, helped them bury their dead and delivered babies. Their kindness and friendships were documented, with both peoples reaching out in an effort to understand each other's beliefs and way of life.

Indeed, many Mounties married aboriginal women, and raised children who straddled both cultures and were dubbed Métis.

Take a peek back into your lineage and you might find an aboriginal ancestor. Peter Lougheed is the first person of Métis ancestry (on his mother's side) to become premier of Alberta.

The Mounties grew and changed as our country grew and changed. They are trying to recruit candidates of different ethnicities to match Canada's growing racial mosaic. They still have a way to go, however, when it comes to aboriginal Mounties.

For many towns and regions, the RCMP is the one and only police force. Its members can be and are transferred, which can be hard both on the constables and their families.

Put them in the remote areas of our country and the danger level spikes. Shortchange them of the equipment they need and that danger level shoots up another notch.

CONST. WYNN

We just lost another Mountie. By all accounts Const. David Wynn was a fine man – father of three, loved by the kids in Keenooshayo Elementary School where he was Drug Abuse Resistance Education program officer, respected by his fellow RCMP officers and former fellow paramedics in Bridgewater, N.S.

He always wanted to help; he was one of the first responders when Swissair Flight 111 went down off the coast in 1998.

Who would expect such a fatal outcome from a simple vehicle licence check at a casino?

INFURIATING

Grief. A feeling of helplessness washes over a community when something as seemingly unfair as this happens. It is even more infuriating when the man who allegedly shot him had a violent criminal record yards long and was forbidden to ever own a firearm.

What can we do? Pray every day to St. Michael, the patron saint designated to guard police officers. Buy St. Michael medals and take them to the police station. Some may wear them. Some may not. But they will be there.

The next time the RCMP – or any police force – asks for essential funding, call your MP or city councillor and tell them that's where you want some of your tax dollars spent – protecting our protectors.