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According to recent polls, only 15% of Canadians believe that the RCMP does not have a problem with systemic racism. Indigenous peoples account for approximately 5% of the population in Canada, yet — as the Globe and Mail found — over a 10-year period, more than 36% of RCMP killings involved Indigenous people. The need for change is felt locally by the recent killing of 26-year-old Chantel Moore of the Tia-o-qui-aht First Nation, who was shot five times during a wellness check by police in Edmundston, N.B.
Indigenous men account for 30% of federal inmates incarcerated and Indigenous women account for 42%. Experts note that poverty, socioeconomic status, abuse, violence, housing, mental health, access to healthcare, education, and environmental health are key social determinants. An holistic approach to health centres social justice as a unifying solution.
“When people are in crisis, we know that what they need is care, not confrontation with an armed officer. We know that the threat of violence exacerbates distress. We know that care should take the form of de-escalation, crisis counseling, and connection to resources.” – Doctors For Defunding the Police
The RCMP’s Gross Spending for 2019-2020 equals $5.1 billion, with 60% spent on Indigenous policing. Meanwhile, the Canadian Medical Association Journal estimates a $3.1 billion annual funding gap for mental health services. Re-allocating taxpayer funds from increased policing, militarization, criminalization, and incarceration to clean water, housing, and health services could help to create more livable, healthy, and caring communities.