Richard Froese for Spotlight
After years of planning, Lakeshore Regional Police Service officially opened its new headquarters in Driftpile on Oct. 27.
“This is a part of your community that will help First Nations move forward,” Chief of Police Dale Cox says during ceremonies.
“It means a lot to me and our members.”
Housed with High Prairie and Faust RCMP since the service was established in 2009, the building was a major effort of the Lesser Slave Lake Indian Regional Council that includes Driftpile First Nation, Sucker Creek First Nation, Kapawe’no First Nation, Swan River First Nation, along with Sawridge First Nation in Slave Lake.
“Our police service has been found to meet the requirements of a police service while also meeting cultural values and requirements of First Nations,” Cox says of the self-administered police service.
With just over 7,000 square feet, the building can accommodate up to 16 officers, while the service currently has 12.
“We’ve also included an elders room so they can have space to work with people who come into conflict with the justice system,” Cox says.
A room has also been designated as a base for crime prevention, victim services and restorative justice programs.
Built at a cost of $5.4 million, the project was a partnership, with 52 percent from the federal government and 48 per cent from the provincial government.
First discussed 13 years ago, the concept was initiated by former Driftpile chief Rose Laboucan, who played an instrumental role to launch the project for a central office now located on Highway 2, just west of Driftpile River.
She was strongly supported by other chiefs that include Jim Badger of Sucker Creek, Ryan Davis of Swan River, Frank Halcrow of Kapawe’no and Roland Twin of Sawridge.
Now complete, the building was part of a long journey as several speakers described.
“Today is a proud day for the five First Nations in the region,” says LSLIRC Grand Chief Ryan Davis of Swan River.
“We gave our people somewhere where we can work together.
“We work together with the RCMP and I look forward to growing the police service.”
Partnerships was a pillar in project, some say.
“It’s the co-operation of the chiefs of the five First Nations that made it happen,” says Anne Marie Auger, executive assistant of the LSLIRC.
“You can see what happens when chiefs all work together.”
LRPS commission was also a key partner.
“It’s good to see officers in one building, our communities need that,” says commission chair Diane Halcrow of Kapawe’no.
“We want to see more of our people in police service.”
Provincial RCMP also congratulated the project partners.
“I can tell you that the professionalism and pride the Lakeshore Regional Police Service has in serving the people represented by the regional council are second to none in the policing community in Alberta, and something the council should be proud of,” RCMP K Division Chief Supt. Brenda Lucki says.
“I can see no better symbolic tribute to your cultural heritage and commitment to safety and security than this fine new policing facility.”
Words were also expressed from the Province of Alberta partner.
“It shows true determination when we work together and produce great success,” Government of Alberta First Nations Policing Director Ron Hepperle says.
“If we are concerned about safe communities, then we have to give them a building.”
Public Safety Canada First Nations Policing senior program officer Wendy Uhlenberg also expressed the value of the partnerships and the project to enhance safety in the communities.
“Co-operation, commitment and collaboration between the First Nations, provincial and federal governments, is the key to successful policing in aboriginal communities,” Uhlenberg says.
“I believe that this progress will continue to foster growth and building healthy relationships and most importantly safer and stronger communities.”