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Rebecca Kudloo, president of the Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada, speaks on an Inuit panel in relation to missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Ottawa on Jan. 16, 2020.Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

The RCMP, which has faced pressure to respond to systemic racism within the force, has signed an agreement with a national organization representing Inuit women to better protect them.

The RCMP said Wednesday that Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada and the force are implementing a plan, known as the Pinasuqatigiinniq agreement. Pinasuqatigiinniq is the Inuit term for working together collaboratively.

Some of the first steps include a commitment to review of cultural competency training, to establish a family violence co-ordinator in Nunavut and to consult Inuit women on the RCMP’s pilot project in Iqaluit on body-worn cameras.

The RCMP has faced increased scrutiny over the conduct of officers toward Indigenous people. Incidents have included the arrest of Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Chief Allan Adam that was captured by a police dashcam.

Rebecca Kudloo, the president of Pauktuutit, said Wednesday that the agreement between the Mounties and her organization will help with an “urgently needed cultural shift” in policing practices. Systemic racism is a reality in Inuit women’s encounters with the force, she added.

“For example, women experiencing domestic violence often feel further victimized when they come into contact with police, after having the courage to report incidents of abuse,” she said.

“Pauktuutit looks forward to working with the RCMP to improve the safety and security of Inuit women, including when they have contact with RCMP officers assigned to serve and protect them.”

The agreement follows a January, 2020, report by Pauktuutit on violence against Inuit women. It included recommendations such as the need for cultural awareness, trauma-informed police services and gender-based training and policies.

The report also noted the history of the RCMP’s involvement in relocating Inuit to permanent settlements, transporting Inuit children to residential schools and slaughtering Inuit sled dogs.

“In short, the policing that the RCMP were engaged in was decidedly ‘racialized,’ ” the report said. “It was designed to enforce Inuit conformity to the emerging colonial regime.”

RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki, who has faced calls to resign previously from Indigenous leaders over comments she made about systemic racism, said Wednesday in a statement that it is important to learn from the past, evaluate current actions and collaborate with Indigenous communities.

Superintendent Kim Taplin, the director of national crime prevention and Indigenous policing services, also said in an interview that the RCMP’s ability to carry out its mandate depends on the trust of communities that it serves, and the agreement is part of the work toward building that relationship.

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