Police hope to build trust of aboriginal youth at Oskayak Police Academy

Monday, July 13th, 2015 @ 10:26AM

SOURCE – EDMONTON JOURNAL

The Edmonton police hope to build leadership skills and empower aboriginal youth to build safer communities through a 10-day camp.

“I want to learn about what the police go through and what they do every day,” camp participant 15-year-old Jaurie Alexis-Flett said Wednesday. “I am excited to create a relationship with them.”

The camp, known as the Oskayak Police Academy, is for aboriginal youths 14 to 18 years old. After a successful pilot project last year, it has expanded this summer, with about 40 young people attending the police department’s Griesbach training centre.

The program focuses on providing a safe, culturally inclusive space for the youth and officers to communicate, challenge stereotypes, and learn.

Andrea Levey, the Edmonton police department’s aboriginal relations co-ordinator, said the camp helps officers gain a better understanding of the lives of aboriginal youth in Edmonton.

“We want to build trusting relationships between youth and police that will carry on,” she said.

Edmonton’s aboriginal community is the second largest in Canada.

The police department has acknowledged the need to build better relations and reduce victimization in the aboriginal community.

Christie Pace, a youth worker with Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society, said the camp helps youth gain trust in the police officers and encourages them to consider a career in policing.

“We’re just looking to break down some barriers, build relationships with the EPS and the Edmonton public,” she said.

The campers engage in various educational sessions, attend traditional cultural activities, and will help with community outreach programs downtown.

On Wednesday, participants watched a K-9 demonstration where police dog, Fozzy, took down a fake suspect. They also tried on the gear worn by riot control officers and took part in an intense obstacle course used for police recruits.

Officer Jason Reilly looks forward to showing the campers what he does every day.

“I want to give them a better understanding of what we go through on the job and provide them with the options and tools that we have to make sure everybody stays safe,” he said.

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