'This is a failure:' Moose Jaw Police Service apologizes to 2SLGBTQ community
On Tuesday, members of the police service and members of Moose Jaw Pride gathered for the apology, signing a letter of commitment to work together going forward. Chief Rick Bourassa is pictured speaking. (CTV News)
REGINA -- The Moose Jaw Police Service has issued a formal apology to members of the city’s 2SLGBTQ community after they experienced unfair treatment spanning decades.
On Tuesday, members of the police service and members of Moose Jaw Pride gathered for the apology, signing a letter of commitment to work together going forward.
“We haven’t been everyone’s police. We haven’t protected everyone. We haven’t been as inclusive as we should and must be,” Chief Rick Bourassa with the Moose Jaw Police Service said. “2SLGBTQ people and families in our community have made it clear their encounters and experiences with our police service have not been as inclusive as they should be.”
Bourassa said rather than earning respect and trust, the police service has allowed fear and mistrust to continue.
“This is a failure. A failure we, and I, own,” Bourassa said. “For that, I am truly sorry. For that, I apologize on behalf of all of us at the Moose Jaw Police Service.”
Bourassa said this apology, which has been in the works for more than a year, is not inspired by one specific incident. He said it’s about recognizing the historical wrongs that have happened.
Last year, the Moose Jaw Police Service and Moose Jaw Pride formed a planning circle to better understand the experiences of 2SLGBTQ people with police in the city.
The letter of commitment between Moose Jaw Pride and Moose Jaw police. (CTV News)
Cole Ramsey, vice chair of Moose Jaw Pride, said the circle heard from a variety of people who shared their personal experiences.
“We heard stories that were as recent as last week this happened, and as distant as 30 years ago this happened,” Ramsey said. “There are people in our community that have experienced a great deal of harm and neglect over decades.”
Ramsey said Moose Jaw Pride does not speak for everyone who has been impacted, but added this apology is a significant step forward for some members of the 2SLGBTQ community.
“Those are experiences that affect someone’s entire state of being,” Ramsey said. “You carry them with you, and having a weight in the back of your mind lifted or being able to know that despite what has happened before, things could be different in the future, is something you can’t underestimate in improving someone’s life.”
Bourassa said building this relationship will be an ongoing effort and police will continue working with Moose Jaw Pride. Some of the steps include increased diversity training for all officers within the police service and forming policies that are inclusive to every gender.
A pride flag will be flown permanently at the Moose Jaw police headquarters as a visible symbol of support for the 2SLGBTQ community.
“We can’t change the past - that has already been written. But we can learn from the past and work in the present to shape the future,” Bourassa said. “A future in which we’re all protected, we’re all included and the police are truly everyone’s police.”