Canada’s first prime minister, John A. Macdonald, created what is known today as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). His model was the Royal Irish Constabulary, a paramilitary force the British created to keep the Irish under control. Police in Canada were established to serve the interests of colonial expansion and colonial rule.
“The RCMP is a racist institution. What we’re seeing aren’t decisions from a random, bad apple. This is decision making within the institution, tracing back hundreds of years…” – Elizabeth May
Historically, the RCMP acted as the enforcement arm of for the Government of Canada’s relationship to Indigenous people responsible for:
- Forcing Indigenous people off their land and onto reserves;
- Enforcing Canada’s Indian Act policy, including the Reserve Pass System that controlled who could go off-reserve as
- well as the criminalization of those who participated in ceremonies such as Potlatching and the Sun Dance;
- Removing Indigenous children from their families and forcing them into abusive residential schools to “take the Indian out of the child”;
- Facilitating the apprehension of children during the Sixties scoop.
The RCMP’s history is fraught with military-style campaigns against Indigenous people protecting their homeland. Some of these police operations which used lethal force took place at Red River, Batoche, Cut Knife, Oka, Gustafsen Lake, and Ipperwash. In 2020, even when there is still no consent from entire Indigenous Nations, the RCMP intervene in land conflicts on behalf of corporations profiteering from extraction of what the market deems capital — trees, fish, oil, gas, and minerals.