“We would like to acknowledge Metro Vancouver Transit Police operate throughout the traditional territories of the Lower Mainland Coast Salish peoples. We acknowledge our hosts and thank them for their hospitality on these lands.”
Now, I wish to take a moment to talk about the heart-breaking news that the bodies of 215 children were found buried at the former Kamloops Residential School. I speak for the whole Board and the Chief Officer when I say that words cannot express the sorrow and anger and grief felt by all Canadians, and especially by Indigenous communities across our country. We know that this was not an isolated incident.
The deaths of these children – and the cultural genocide perpetrated by the Residential School System – are our enduring Canadian shame. We acknowledge these wrongs and recognize that the harm, pain and trauma continues today.
All Police Boards – including our Metro Vancouver Transit Police Board – have a duty to act, to advance Truth and Reconciliation.
Following from our work over the last several years including our report Strengthening Transit Police Support to Indigenous People, we have implemented several new initiatives, from increasing our training on the impact of colonization on Indigenous Peoples and on cultural humility and awareness, to establishing new outreach programs like the Blue Eagle Community Cadet Program.
I particularly want to acknowledge the dedication of our Community Engagement Team and our Indigenous Liaison Officer, who lead and guide us in this work. But we have much more to do.
We recognize that long-term, respectful work is required – by us – the Board and the MVTP – to build good relations with Indigenous peoples. The Transit Police is absolutely committed to the work of Reconciliation. And we will continue to prioritize this work, including through ongoing respectful consultation and engagement with Indigenous communities we serve.
I also want to take a minute to talk about the terrible attack on a Muslim family out for an evening walk in London Ontario last week. Three generations murdered, a child orphaned. All because of their faith. Sickening, horrifying and completely unacceptable. We grieve with the Muslim community in Canada and condemn the scourge of Islamophobia.
Hate crimes and attacks are on the rise in Canada. Our own region has recently gained worldwide notoriety as the epicenter of anti-Asian hate crime in North America. This is terrible. Intolerable. No one in our community should be targeted for who they are. We can’t look away. We must push back, and stand up against racism in all its forms.
We are all connected and affected by injustice. And so, we all must do what we can to work together to make change, to make our community a place of safety and belonging for everyone.
On behalf of the MVTP board and members, I recommit to the public that we will work to ensure that the Transit Police works, every day, to ensure that everyone feels safe and secure on the system, And that all staff feel proud to work at Transit Police.
Among other initiatives, the Transit Police will be implementing more anti-racism, implicit bias and diversity training for all Members – sworn and civilian – to ensure we can advance inclusion, respect and dignity for all the communities we serve across the region. Our people do a tough job in an often challenging environment and are outstanding professionals committed to doing their best. We will continue to give them the tools they need to do their jobs and ensure the public that our members walk the talk. Our Board will continue our own training to ensure that we keep a sharp focus on equity, inclusion and diversity as we get into the post-Covid period, ridership returns and the system continues to grow.
The Transit Police will promote and support diversity across our organization, build understanding and skill throughout our workforce, reach out respectfully to the communities we serve, and embed these objectives and the actions to support them, into our strategic plan.
And we will report to the public on our results.
The Transit Police role is to maintain safety and security on the system. For everyone. Everyone. Nothing less will do. That is our commitment.