Working for the RCMP means a career filled with adventure. Officers have the opportunity to live and serve all over Canada – including in some of the most remote and rugged communities in the country.
To learn more about some of the unique postings the RCMP has to offer, we sat down with Cst. Jean-Philipe Dupont who had the opportunity to live and serve in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, a town with a population of roughly 1,500. This was a big change for Cst. Dupont, who previously worked in Burnaby, B.C. Below, Cst. Dupont breaks down some of his key learnings from his experience.
1) Learn to Shift Gears
It’s common for the community to notice a fresh face at the ballpark, rink or local coffee shop when a new officer joins from a larger city or town.
When working in larger communities, you get used to carrying yourself a certain way as you navigate different calls for service and interact with lots of different people. In remote communities though, you are often dealing with the same people time and again, and it can be a tricky balance trying to serve and protect your new community while also gaining their trust and respect.
Cst. Dupont points out that it can be difficult to get a feel for it, but many remote communities are inter-connected. A bad interaction with a person in one area can lead to a series of negative experiences and a bad reputation across more than one community. On the flip side, a good interaction can go a long way in earning respect and trust from the community.
Key learning: You’re not in the big city anymore. Change your gears and match the speed of the community you’re in now.
2) Keep Up A Good Reputation
Your reputation is very important when working in a small and interconnected community. Officers who struggle to connect with their neighbours risk being seen as unapproachable, which will not help you fit in!
“It can be easy to come off as a person who does not care about the people around them,” says Cst. Dupont.
Taking an extra five minutes to speak with community members and being genuine with them can have a longstanding impact. They will remember, and it could save you from possible future altercations.
Key learning: A good reputation means far more than being popular, for police working in remote communities – it can save your life or the lives of your colleagues.
3) Get to know the Youth in Your Community
It is important for youth living in isolated or remote communities to develop good relationships with police. Building rapport with youth as a police officer can yield a big impact for them and the community as they trust the police and could be more likely to come forward proactively if they see trouble brewing.
During his time in Cambridge Bay, Cst. Dupont recognized a need for a mentorship program for boys and founded a new chapter of the Boys Club Network. The group creates a safe space for young boys in the community to share a meal and form positive connections with the police, while enjoying traditional activities such as sledding and fishing.
When working to improve community relations, you can often find a network of reliable individuals or organizations who are motivated to improve the lives of residents. In a small town, these connections are extremely valuable.
Key learning: Reach out to young people or youth-focused organizations in your area. Many want to contribute to improving their communities and are a valuable resource for any officer.
4) Be Adventurous and Learn About the Traditions and Customs in the Community You Serve
While on parental leave, Cst. Dupont chose to stay in the Cambridge Bay area and learn more about the traditional customs of the Iqaluktuurmiut. This helped make his experience positive while serving and protecting the community.
Although every remote community will be different, these postings are an opportunity for RCMP officers to create special and unique bonds with their neighbours – bonds that are simply not possible in bigger cities. Cst. Dupont recounts his time in Cambridge Bay as one of the most memorable times in both his personal and professional life.
Key learning: Take the time to learn about the culture of the community you’re serving. It will make your experience so much richer and more memorable.
If you have worked in a remote community, or know someone who has, and would like to share your story with the NPF, please email us at [email protected]