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In February, the Tseshaht First Nation, whose territory the Alberni Indian Residential School was located on, announced researchers have documented 67 First Nations children who died at the school along with 17 possible unmarked graves.

The Protestant-run residential school, which was located on Vancouver Island, is an important marker in Canadian-Indigenous relations. This is where Willie Blackwater, a Gitxsan hereditary chief, went to school and was sexually abused by dorm supervisor Arthur Henry Plint. Mr. Blackwater and other survivors stood up to Mr. Plint, who was imprisoned in 1997 for sexually assaulting 16 boys. It is fair to say that case brought about true change by leading to the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement, which resulted in former prime minister Stephen Harper apologizing to all residential school survivors in the House of Commons in 2008 and the kickstarting of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Fast forward to the present day and those tied to the Alberni school have stood up again – this time refusing to allow the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to investigate the discovery of the remains. On March 2, the Tseshaht First Nation put out 26 Calls for Truth and Justice to the Canadian government, B.C. government, the Presbyterian Church and the United Church, and their very first call was for an “independent body” – not the RCMP – to conduct further probes.

Why? Because of the RCMP and its predecessor the North-West Mounted Police’s tortuous history as an agent of the state, a force first created to oppress First Nations and Métis, get them out of the way of settlers. The force, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary this month, was also used to relocate Inuit off their own lands in the 1950s.

The RCMP enforced the racist Indian Act, limiting First Nations movements off reserve via the “pass system,” officers jailed Indigenous parents for not sending their kids to residential schools and for 76 years they acted as truant officers, hunting children down and taking them back to schools with graveyards.

The last so-called school closed in 1996. Unforgivingly, before the 1990s, there were “very few” investigations concerning sexual abuse at the schools, the RCMP concluded in their own 2011 report.

The RCMP apologized for their woeful record during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, saying: “Your communities deserve better choices and better chances. Knowing the past, we must all turn to the future and build a brighter future for all our children.”

We are all still waiting for that to happen.

The historical and continuing shortcomings of the RCMP demonstrate institutional and systemic patterns that have resulted in a denial of justice, Kimberly Murray, the federally appointed Independent Special Interlocutor for Missing Children and Unmarked Graves and Burial Sites, said in an interview Tuesday. “There is a significant lack of trust towards the RCMP in the context of investigations. Given their history, the RCMP simply might not be the right police service to investigate missing children and unmarked burials.”

The RCMP did not protect Indigenous children then and the broken relationship continues. There are many recent, awful examples. The family of Dale Culver, a 35-year-old Wet’suwet’en and Gitxsan First Nations father who stopped breathing during an arrest, are still waiting for the trial of five RCMP officers charged in relation to his death six years ago. Two officers face manslaughter and three others obstruction charges.

Debbie Baptiste, the mother of Colten Boushie, the 22-year-old Red Pheasant Cree Nation man shot and killed by Saskatchewan farmer Gerald Stanley, suffered racial discrimination by RCMP officers who smelled her breath for alcohol and conducted an illegal search of her home directly after her son died.

In late March, five land defenders were arrested on Wet’suwet’en territory in relation to the Coastal GasLink pipeline construction. The RCMP have been routinely criticized for acting like a paramilitary force, invading First Nations territories, making arrests – even of journalists.

None of these situations bode well for the reconciliation the RCMP says they desperately want.

A reality check on the force has been developed in a very 21st century way – a RCMP Heritage website developed by activists, academics and researchers. It hosts topic pages on everything from deadly police interactions to the origins of the force, to internal issues and relations with Indigenous peoples.

“This website project would be unnecessary, if not for the lack of institutional accountability the RCMP has demonstrated, despite numerous attempts by RCMP officers themselves, royal commissions, reports, and thousands of civilian complaints. It presents an opportunity for a wholesale rethinking of the role of the RCMP in Canadian society,” the site reads.

Nearly 20 years after the RCMP’s apology for their role in upholding the genocidal residential schools, the national police force is still at ground zero in trying. Trust isn’t given, it is earned.