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The Mounties should help end aboriginal poverty by mentoring and training native youth on the ambitious scale of the Marshall Plan that rebuilt postwar Europe, says an RCMP internal discussion paper.

It advocates spending billions of dollars on education and skills training, eventually scrapping the Indian Act, and drawing more young aboriginals into RCMP ranks to turn the tide of despair plaguing many native communities.

"If the status quo of aboriginal economic and educational initiatives continues, street gangs and violent activity will increase and already marginalized aboriginal populations will experience a diminishing quality of life," says the paper, obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.

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"The fallout from aboriginal poverty is all too obvious and will only get worse."

The recent shooting death of a young mother on the Samson reserve south of Edmonton left the community reeling and renewed the already deep concerns about violence and gang activity among native youth.

Street gangs that took root in some native communities two decades ago are a disturbing barometer, the paper says.

"Their spread from urban centres to reserves is not a sign of organizational growth but rather the continuing unhealthy social state of these communities."

The document, entitled The Aboriginal Youth Cohort: A Discussion Paper on Future Consequences, was prepared last November by the Mounties' criminal-intelligence branch.

The authors acknowledge the 14-page paper is far from exhaustive and is primarily intended to provoke further thought, adding that it delves into territory "beyond the law enforcement mandate of the RCMP."

The paper does not shy away from RCMP involvement in dark chapters of history, including forced resettlement of aboriginal communities, and the residential schools system, in which many native children suffered abuse. But it stresses that helping aboriginal communities and young people is currently among the force's main priorities.

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"The RCMP has engaged in past initiatives directed at aboriginal people and we should play yet still a greater role if we want to make a difference in their communities as well as strengthen our understaffed ranks," the paper says.

"Such an initiative would be akin to the 'Marshall Plan' that rebuilt Europe in the 1950s."

Dean Fontaine, a former Mountie who is now an adviser to the Assembly of First Nations on policing issues, applauded the force's desire to become more involved with aboriginal youth.

"We're all for it," he said in an interview. "I think it's key. It will no doubt help."

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