RCMP officers in Iqaluit will soon be equipped with body cameras, the first step of an effort to roll out the devices for the entire force, the Mounties said Wednesday.
The plan is to introduce the devices in November, to help address “systemic racism and discrimination in policing and other institutions,” according to Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal.
“We must keep working to remove systemic racism from these institutions, institutions that are meant to serve everyone living in this country equally and fairly,” Vandal said in a statement.
A series of recent police-related deaths of Inuit in Nunavut has sparked an outcry from Indigenous leaders and prompted the territory to start creating a civilian police review agency. Between 2010 and July 2020, there were 13 police-related deaths in Nunavut, including nine since 2013.
The cameras “will help strengthen accountability and public trust of the RCMP in the community,” Chief Supt. Amanda Jones, the commanding officer of RCMP’s V Division, which covers the entire territory.
The RCMP says the goal of the project is to test the technology in remote communities, with feedback from different groups in the territory.
That will include conversations with the pan-national group Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada and the Native Women’s Association of Canada.
“I’m very happy that they’ve taken the initiative to say that this is very serious, that we need more accountability from our RCMP officers, and our government is in favour of any measurements which increases the transparency of our police services,” said Nunavut Justice Minister Jeannie Ehaloak.
“People want transparency, people want accountability. People want to feel safe in the community.”
RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki said in a statement she’s “committed to rolling out a body-worn camera program for all front-line police officers in the RCMP.”
The RCMP says in the statement managing video from its 10,000 front-line officers across the country will be complex.
A request for information was posted this week by Public Services and Procurement Canada on the RCMP’s behalf to gather information from vendors on a management system that would include collecting, storing and disclosing the video.