The NWT’s Black Advocacy Coalition has held its first meeting with the territorial government and RCMP to examine racism against Black, Indigenous, and other communities of colour within the justice system.
On Friday, the groups said their first meeting had taken place the past Monday. Those in attendance included justice minister RJ Simpson, Chief Superintendent Jamie Zettler of NWT RCMP, and leaders of the Black Advocacy Coalition Up North (also known as BACupNorth).
Discussion topics included diversifying hiring practices, tracking the effectiveness of cultural awareness and anti-racism programs, and offering more supports for people transitioning from corrections facilities back to their community.
Simpson was said by the groups to have committed to “engage other ministers” on topics related to their portfolios. The minister also said he would provide BACupNorth leaders with updates on federal work to improve collection of data related to ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status.
An NWT Department of Justice spokesperson, Ngan Trinh, told Cabin Radio that while the GNWT is working with Statistics Canada to improve data collection, there remain privacy concerns around making such data public.
“Given the NWT’s small population overall – and specific Indigenous, racial, ethnic and religious segments thereof – even when and where collected, some anti-racism data may not be shareable due to privacy requirements,” Trinh said.
BACupNorth said by email it had asked for data that “the RCMP has been collecting based on calls and RCMP activity across the territory,” to be shared in “an anonymous format.”
“To our understanding, there seems to be a national dialogue happening to look at the collection of such disaggregated data,” the group wrote.
“We are relying on the territorial minister of justice follow up and inform BACupNorth on that process and who is representing the NWT in those conversations.”
Earlier in March, BACupNorth president Ambe Chenemu told Cabin Radio the organization also hoped to discuss with the justice minister alternatives to policing with the Black northern community.
Chenemu’s other priorities include pushing for the NWT curriculum to better reflect the Black experience and improving supports for Black-owned businesses.
“BACupNorth is committed to advocate for justice, equity, equal representation, and opportunity for Black and ‘minority’ communities in the North,” Chenemu stated in a Friday news release.
“It is our duty to hold ourselves, our leaders, and institutions accountable and we will deliver on that duty.”
The three parties are set to meet again this fall.