Chris Voller with Gwa’sala First Nation hereditary chief Willie Walkus at a farewell gathering for Voller. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)

Chris Voller with Gwa’sala First Nation hereditary chief Willie Walkus at a farewell gathering for Voller. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)

Island cop earns Reconciliation Award for culturally safe and competent policing

Inaugural award given by the BC Achievement Foundation to inspire other works of reconciliation

RCMP Corporal Chris Voller sees reconciliation as a key priority for RCMP officers, and is deliberately up front about the harmful legacy the RCMP have in many Indigenous communities.

It’s one reason he was among the BC Achievement Foundation and the Lieutenant Governor’s office have given Reconciliation Awards to six people and three organizations who demonstrated leadership and commitment to furthering reconciliation.

Voller was nominated by his former boss and four First Nations from the North Island where he was most recently posted.

“We existed as an enforcement agency when the government created policies that forcefully removed children from their families in order to place them in schooling systems that saw them lose their sense of personal and cultural identity,” Voller said.

“Acknowledging our roles, and the piercing, multigenerational effects of those roles, coupled with continued socioeconomic disadvantages, needs to be understood.”

While working out of Port Hardy, he was often seen at community gatherings, he developed friendships with First Nations leaders, and supported Indigenous-led initiatives such as the Managed Alcohol Program and the Indigenous Court.

READ MORE: Officer Chris Voller says farewell to the North Island

Since transferring to Quadra Island where he’s now detachment commander, one of his first steps was to reach out to the First Nations there — We Wai Kai and Klahoose — to ask their blessing to work on their traditional territories. He waited to receive it before publicly announcing his new position.

That respect and humility demonstrates his sincere commitment to delivering culturally safe and competent policing.

A memorable moment from Port Hardy was when, after years of developing relationships with the Gwa’sala and ‘Nakwaxda’xw Nations — who had been forcefully removed from their traditional territory by the RCMP in the ’60s, and given a reserve outside of Port Hardy — he was invited to attend and participate in a potlach ceremony.

One hereditary chief traded garb with Voller, so the cop was dancing in a vest with bear emblems, and the chief was dancing in a police vest. Speaking of that event, Voller says he’s grateful the Nations were willing to make space for someone with his uniform to be part of the community.

Voller is also a leadership trainer with the RCMP, and will travel around the Island consulting with other detachments.

Other recipients of the inaugural Reconciliation Award are Dawn Drummond, Doris Paul, Corey Payette, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, David Suzuki, the Carrier Sekani Family Services team, Marine Plan Partnership for the North Pacific Coast and the Ktunaxa Nation’s xacqanat ‘itkinit (many ways of doing the same thing) research team.


Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

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zoe.ducklow@blackpress.ca

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