First Nations and West Vancouver Police
Policing the Xwemelch'stn (Homulchsen) Community
On July 23rd 1923, 16 Squamish speaking tribes amalgamated to form the Squamish Nation Band. There are currently 3,446 official members of the Band. 1,941 live on Squamish Nation reserves.
Xwemelch'stn means the "Mouth of the River" and is the traditional name for the Squamish Nation Reserve in West Vancouver otherwise known as Capilano Reserve IR#5. West Vancouver Police are the Police of Jurisdiction for Xwemelch'stn.
Over the last several years relationship building initiatives have taken place between the Squamish Nation and the West Vancouver Police Department culminating in a 2007 agreement to create the Integrated First Nations Unit (IFNU).
From Left Above - Tsleil Waututh Chief Leah George-Wilson, Squamish Chief Byron Joseph and West Vancouver Mayor and Police Board Chair Pamela Goldsmith-Jones at IFNU Agreement Signing Ceremony at Tsleil Waututh, North Vancouver
The Integrated First Nations Unit is a partnership of West Vancouver Police, RCMP in North Vancouver and Squamish and the Squamish and Tsleil Waututh First Nations.
Based on the North Shore, the squad is formed of officers from West Vancouver Police and the RCMP, focused on providing enhanced policing services that are culturally sensitive and responsive to the Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations.
Integrated First Nations Unit members work closely with our Squamish and Tsleil Waututh First Nations partners. Members assist Patrol and General Duty members in emergency responses, while also consulting extensively with the First Nations Communities and their members.
IFNU members meet regularly with Chiefs and Council and staff from Social Development, Community Operations and all aspects of the First Nations governance and operations to review and address community concerns and priorities identified in the Integrated First Nations Policing Agreement.
Members also work hard to provide all members of the community with help and information aimed at promoting understanding and positive interactions between Police and First Nations.
Partnership In Action For Safer Communities
The Integrated First Nations Unit, West Vancouver Police and the RCMP all share a valuable working partnership with the Squamish Nation Peacekeepers. In 2004, West Vancouver Police committed support and training to a renewal of the Squamish Nation Peacekeepers.
The Peacekeepers program is an all volunteer uniformed Community Patrol. The Squamish Nation funded the program for the purchase of marked Peacekeepers patrol vehicles and readily identifiable uniforms for Peacekeeper officers.
With operational bases on the North Shore and in Squamish, Squamish Nation Peacekeepers devote thousands of hours per year patroling to observe, record and report offences or suspicious behaviour, while also being available to assist police with important cultural and community liaison.
About The Integrated First Nations Unit Logo - Wolf and Thunderbird
Like the unit it represents, the unique appearance of Integrated First Nations Unit police vehicles symbolize collaboration and integration. Along with crests of the RCMP and West Vancouver Police, the vehicles bear a logo inspired by revered images of the First Nations served by IFNU.
Created by renowned Squamish Nation artist Xwalacktun the logo is a combination of Wolf on the left and a Thunderbird on the right. Click Here For More Information About Squamish Artist Xwalacktun.
The Wolf is the artistic symbol of the Tsleil Waututh Nation. The Wolf also represents the traditional importance of family to First Nations.
The Thunderbird is the artistic symbol of the Squamish Nation and represents belief in a greater force than humans. The Squamish Nation symbol depicts the Thunderbird looking down from above to watch over the safety of all people.
Follow Links below to learn more about the Integrated First Nations Unit, the IFNU Partnership Agreement and the First Nations Communities proudly served by West Vancouver Police.
Creation of the Integrated First Nations Unit built on a long series of initiatives undertaken while West Vancouver Police staffed a dedicated Aboriginal Liaison Officer position within the Community Services Unit. West Vancouver Police became an integral part of the Caring For Our Youth Committee (CFOY) an Aboriginal led movement working to reduce harmful effects of drugs and alcohol on First Nations youth while promoting a more peaceful environment for all.
In 2005, the West Vancouver Police Department Mobile Police Station was strategically parked in various locations throughout the Reserve in an effort to encourage dialogue and cooperation and to discourage known drug dealers from conducting their illegal business.
It soon became clear that these two simple initiatives drew an overwhelmingly positive response from the community. This showed through the comments that were made at the meetings around the CFOY table. Both organizations were finally able to discuss beliefs and behaviors. This was the catalyst that began a noticeable change in the relationship between the West Vancouver Police Department and Xwemelch'stn.
The West Vancouver Police Department also proposed the initiative called "Clean-up". "Clean-up" was less of an effort to clean up garbage, and more of an effort to rally leadership and consciousness in the community. Clean-up days have attracted people from inside and outside Xwemelch'stn. This proactive, leadership initiative has since been adopted by the Tsleil-Waututh Nation and the Mission Reserve in North Vancouver. Clean-up has the participation of the Mayors of the three North Shore Municipalities as well as the West Vancouver Fire Department and the Honorable Don Bell M.P.
As a reaction to the difficulties that were experienced by police and community members in accessing information on suspected victims of sexual predators, the West Vancouver Police Department suggested holding a rally to draw together mothers of the Squamish Nation and the surrounding communities to show comfort and support to all victims of sex abuse.
This became the annual Sex Abuse Rally. It is not a march, nor is it a demonstration. It is a rally of mothers, friends and supporters, as well as survivors of sexual and physical abuse to raise awareness and acknowledge this as a wide spread social problem. The supporters are able to show those who suffer that there are many who care, and are there to offer support and comfort. To witness and participate in the Sex Abuse Rally can be an emotionally charged and humbling experience. Survivors, male and female, share their experiences of unimaginable horror at the hands of people who were often in a position of trust.
It was the inaugural Sex Abuse Rally that brought the North Shore Mayors to the CFOY table. Mayors of all three municipalities and political figures have all walked with the rally and expressed their support at the culmination of the event.
The West Vancouver Police Department also initiated the posting of the Province's first Aboriginal English bilingual traffic signs on Xwemelch'stn.
Since September 2005, the Block Watch program has been active in the Xwemelch'stn community, which is made up of 32 streets and growing. This is a proactive program where residents have 24/7 access to the Aboriginal Liaison Officer. Since the program was introduced, the residents of 17 streets have signed on as active Block Watch participants, enhancing public safety and reducing the fear of crime. This accounts for 50% of the total streets in the community. The Xwemelch'stn Block Watch program is now the most active Block Watch program in the municipality.
The West Vancouver Police Department has also supported a CFOY delegation to the Sechelt Reserve, on British Columbia's Sunshine Coast. The delegations role was to give advice and support Sechelt's efforts in organizing and creating a CFOY model that allowed the Sechelt Nation to put drug dealers on the defensive. This initiative resulted in the creation of the Sechelt Nation's "Taking Back Our Community" (TBOC) movement.
In a further proactive move, officers from the West Vancouver Police Department traveled to the Lummi Nation territory in Washington, USA to observe how that community is tackling their drug and addiction issues. It was in Lummi that the officers witnessed the ceremonial burning of a house that had been used for drug taking.
For more information on any of the programs and initiatives mentioned above, contact the West Vancouver Police Community Services Unit at 604.925.7300 .