Keeping BC’s coastal communities safe

B.C., West Coast Marine Services

2020-05-02 10:00 PDT

The RCMP wants to ensure that the communities along British Columbia’s extensive coast are continuing to be served especially during this difficult time when everyone is affected by the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Photo of an officer holding a sign next to a West Coast Marine vessel in Kitkatla.

The West Coast Marine Section has been working closely with and in BC’s remote Indigenous communities to ensure they do not feel isolated or cut off during this challenging and confusing time.

In February, two members of the West Coast Marine Unit visited the Kitkatla First Nation Community to speak with residents to explain the role of West Coast Marine in serving their community. In a show of relationship building, the officers were invited to stay for a home cooked meal.

Photo of two officers sharing a meal with the Kitkatla First Nation Community in February.

In late March, in the midst of the COVID-19 lockdown, West Coast Marine conducted foot patrols in the community of Lax Kw'alaams near Prince Rupert. Members wore personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks to respect the community's fear of bringing the COVID-19 virus to their community.  The area has remained relatively free of cases or outbreaks. Lax Kw'alaams and many other remote coastal communities in BC have expressed concerns due to the lack of medical facilities and staff to respond if an outbreak were to spread.

Photo of two officers doing patrol in the community while wearing PPEs.

In April, the Port Hardy and Port Alice RCMP partnered with the program called Soap for Hope and began distributing hygiene care packages to several remote communities throughout the province. The RCMP liaised with Gwa'Sala-'Nakwaxda-xw's First Nation’s health authority to deliver multiple personal hygiene items including slippers, shower curtains, sheets, pillows, towels, and blankets.

Educational resources continue to be distributed to these communities through Indigenous Police Services (IPS) and West Coast Marine. West Coast Marine continues to modify its schedule in order to deliver supplies and provide supportive policing to the coastal communities. Education and continued engagement has been key to making sure Indigenous communities also adhere the COVID-19 restrictions in order to keep safe.

In times like this, it is so important to our Indigenous communities to keep isolated during this pandemic, said Constable David Kokesch with the West Coast Marine Unit. West Coast Marine offers a floating RCMP detachment. It gives these remote communities assurance that the police are still there and able to look after any of their needs that may arise.

We are dedicating ourselves to making sure that communities don't feel support from the RCMP is being diminished right now. It is more important now than ever to maintain our presence and connection to the Indigenous communities along BC's coast," said Inspector Dee Stewart of Officer in Charge of Indigenous Police Services. "This has not been an easy time for anyone, as there are so many uncertainties surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. If we can assist by bringing in goods, educational resources, and providing any type of support, we want to ensure that we can contribute to keeping communities safer and healthy.

The West Coast Marine Section is comprised of experienced police officers who are committed to providing the highest quality service in communities of all sizes, including the many Indigenous communities along BC's unique coastline.

In addition to proactive marine enforcement, the officers conduct criminal investigations assisting the detachments and communities they serve. It has been a priority of the BC RCMP and the West Coast Marine unit to maintain a visible presence in BC’s Indigenous communities to ensure they continue to feel supported.

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BC RCMP Communications
(778) 290-2929

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