Farica Prince’s career in Canadian police has last 19 years.
The current Inspector of the Blood Tribe Police Force has accomplished a lot, both at solving crimes, instructing and selecting future law enforcement agents and fighting for the rights and safety of indigenous people in their home communities across Western Canada.
However, she also a strong advocate for the rights of indigenous communities and those who police them. She wants things to change as the Alberta government has table Bill 38 which recognize First Nations police forces in the provincial Police Act. It’s a start, but there is some deep rooted systematic racism that all governments need to overcome.
“One of the roles I take very seriously is that education and awareness. It hasn’t been handled very delicately right, because what a lot of times people don’t know and what they become divisive about these conversations go sideways very quickly and to get people on the same page not just our organization, but even at the provincial level but at the AACP (Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police) even on different committee levels or with the Canadian Association Chiefs of Police,” explains Prince. “Five or six years ago, I found my voice. As an indigenous woman I am not supposed to be at that leadership table, I don’t see people who look like me making decisions or being given a platform to speak up or raise awareness. I have always been very careful about being deemed that ‘angry Indigenous woman.’ I don’t want to walk through life with that chip on my shoulder anymore but the society of Canada, it tells people, it shows people like me that our lives are not as valued. When you look at how underfunded education, child welfare, policing is in Indigenous communities, it is pretty hard to deny the evidence. As we work towards Reconciliation Commission and all of their recommendations and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls inquiry and all of the calls to action and the justice there, it was all of those things that were happening in society and it was me getting into out of supervising and more into leadership I was able to start developing my thoughts and educating myself and using my voice as a way to advance indigenous people towards equity… we have a long way to go.”
Prince’s credential are impressive to say the least.
She started her career about 19 years ago. In 2001-2005, she launched her career in Manitoba with the Dakota Ojibway Police Service in her home community of Sioux Valley Dakota Nation before moving to her first stint with the Blood Tribe from 2005-2008. Both tours were as a general duty officer. She then went to the RCMP and was in Regina from 2008-2011 as a facilitator and instructor within the Applied Police Science and the Firearms Training Unit at the RCMP academy. In 2011, she came back to the Blood Tribe as Inspector and has been there ever since. As well in 2019, she finished a four-year Bachelor of Policing degree from the prestigious Charles Sturt University in Australia.
She has done some volunteer work as well, but she particularly proud of her impressive career.
Her position at the Blood Tribe is as the inspector in charge of the administrative support division. In her division she’s responsible for everything outside the immediate response to complaints. She is charge of any actions or policies in dealing with the “crime court unit”, our records management, victim services, a full 24 hour cell block, full dispatch communication centre, policies, treaties , recruiting, crime prevention, school resources, and the buildings.
“Those are the just very straightforward tasks and responsibilities,” adding that the team assembled works hard and efficiently. “They ensure the police service is able to operate day to day safely so that the police officers are able to go to the calls, do the investigating and solve the problems.
She does a lot of committee work and that is one of the roles she takes is advocating for First Nations police forces. It was last year they were approved for five additional positions and that made it to 37 officers and 25 civilian staff.
One of Prince’s major satisfactions beside being a strong voice at many of the nation and provincial tables regarding policing is that she has been able to increase the number of female indigenous police officers from 6 per cent to 25 per cent of the Blood Tribe police force.
“When I first took over applicant processing and selection back in 2012-13 it was actually excited a lot of this for me. I was flabbergasted and taken aback the amount of women representation. Our leaders talk a lot about how our organizations need to reflect the communities we serve. If that was the case then policing should be made up of 50 per cent women and 50 per cent men,” explains Prince. “We were at 6 per cent at the time. I made a very strong commitment to raising that number and it was during that process that I identified how even completely discriminatory the new recruit, new application process is.
She again goes back to systems that “were designed to work less for the people who designed them.” Prince points out that indigenous people didn’t have any part in creating those applicant process that is mandated administrators must follow and cites how discriminatory the cognitive ability test is. She adds that it is not just indigenous people, it is English as a Second Language, second generation immigrants.
“The cognitive ability test and the communications test, they are not communications tests because they are not designed for people who are not white…. The cognitive test is like “let’s see if you fit into our mold of what a Canadian is and a lot of us don’t which is why we are so underrepresented in many police services because we can’t get past the front door and not just indigenous people, marginalized people.”
Everything has come to a head in regards to racism recently. At the height of the racial tension in North America, there was a lot of misunderstanding about what the word ‘systemic’ means and what systemic racism looks like. Prince took it upon herself to help change indigenous police forces and how they recruit.
Once they are there, she wants to make sure everyone involved feels included.
“Ethnic diversity and inclusion is my passion. Human Resources is my passion, so we as a management team took it upon ourselves to develop some new messages. We have had some very intimate conversations with our police officers and our employees so we make sure we have got everybody on the same page of what system means and specifically what systemic discrimination (is),” explains Prince. “My role is developing the key messages to make sure that people know and when they were asked about (systemic racism) that there was no question…all of Canada’s institutions, all of our systems in Canada are colonial constructs. Child welfare, education, media, policing — all of the institutions that were designed to work best for those who designed them and that doesn’t work for indigenous people. To this day, we still have trouble (at getting) a seat at the table when decisions are getting made about us. For instance, (the Blood Tribe police force) not being recognized as (technically) essential for the last 30 years, and being underfunded and not being considered essential …we’ve got a problem in Canada.”