The Aboriginal Ambassador Program, a part of Winnipeg?s Downtown Watch Ambassador group, trains members of the city?s Aboriginal population to help provide a safe environment on the streets of Winnipeg.
The ambassadors act as a safety patrol with Winnipeg City Police. Graduates of the program go on to careers in law enforcement and other justice-related employment.
?We are the eyes and ears of the downtown area in providing safe walks and providing basic rescuer first aid,? said 25-year-old graduate Adam Miller, a Metis from Winnipeg.
The uniform consists of a red jacket, black pants with a red stripe. The focus is on the tourists that may need help during their time in Winnipeg, but training in first aid, conflict resolution and mediation, and the proper procedures for handling the scene of a vehicle accident, makes them valuable to residents as well.
Students take a self-defense course taught by a martial arts expert and there is a two-day course on conflict resolution that trains student on how to deal with the public in difficult situations. How to resolve issues while being non-confrontational.
?What we do in the course is a lot of role playing, as to situations that can arise and what to about them,? said Rick Joyal, program manager. ?We also have the police come in and show the students what to do with respect to the powers of observation, which is on how to take notes and properly document things for court processing and how to write reports.?
?The goal of the program is to provide work experience in law enforcement to individuals and youth," said Joyal. ?The last program had a high rate of steering people into police jobs, corrections, and customs. The program is also an incentive for the Aboriginal graduates to be viewed as community role models. In doing so, there may be an elimination of negative stereotyping on Aboriginal people.?
?Policing in itself is very interesting to me,? said Miller. ?It is something that I?ve always wanted to do. Growing up I saw how the police would help people and the respect and honor they got while doing their job. My goal is to eventually get into the RCMP. This program is a great program. It is definitely a stepping stone to getting on with some law-enforcement program and it gets you out there in the community, out on the street,? he said.
Applicants must have a Grade 12 diploma or GED to get into the program. A full background check by the Winnipeg police is done to ensure a clean record.
?This program helps people mature,? said Miller. ?It tells you a lot about yourself. What your abilities are. You get a lot of pats on the back. The people are very friendly. You need drive and a willingness to complete stuff within your life. Basically, you have to be a person of good character, to be an all around nice guy. My family is very proud of me. It is very rewarding.?