(Provided by RPS Advisor R/Cpl. Jim Pratt: 2019)
In 1997, the acquisition of a traditional tipi was made by the Regina Police Service. This tipi is to signify the cultural bridge between the Regina Police Service and the Indigenous community. At this time, there was a high rate of stolen automobiles by youth. The majority of the youth (12 of the top 20 car thieves) were from Piapot First Nation. In total over 400 cars were stolen by these 12 youths, causing a number of accidents and generating public safety concern.
RPS Chief Murray Langgard met with Piapot First Nation Chief Roland Crowe, and assistant Alphonse Lavalee, along with a member of Social Services about the youth. They agreed that a connection back to the community and culture is what these youth needed. Since the Paul Dojack Centre was reaching capacity, they decided to develop a cultural camp for these youth. A seven day cultural day camp with 10 youth from Dojack was held at Creelodge. The Regina Police Service took the lead in organizing these camps.
During this time, Chief Langgard had a dream of a tipi. The tipi was to be painted with two eagles and two stripes. He offered tobacco to the Elders at the camp for guidance and explained his vision. He said he wanted it to represent youth and strength (blue stripe, prison and addictions and the red stripe, the right path). The Elders told the Chief to purchase a tipi. A Sioux Council tipi from Peace River, Alberta was purchased. Sioux describes the manner in which the canvas is sewn together and Council describes the size. Being a Council tipi, it is one of the largest, with 24 foot stripped Lodgepole Pine poles. The Elders advised Chief Langgard to have his vision painted on the canvas by Robert Bellegarde from Little Black Bear First Nation.
The Elders also instructed the Chief to have a ceremony with the boys from the cultural camp, as well as, a traditional feast and giveaway. When the tipi first went up at the RCMP barracks that June, Elders, Stewart Koochicum, Isador Pelletier, Donald Bigknife and Mike Pinay, provided their blessings with a pipe ceremony and feast. Chief Roland Crowe also gave his blessings.
The Elders gave Chief Langgard 10 years for the tipi with the possibility of extending it and to host a feast once a year which was held until 2006. It was then, the Elders told the Service to move from hosting a feast to hosting a round dance. The first round dance was held in February 2007 at the Gathering Place. There are other protocols that were given to the Service by the Elders that are to be followed with having a painted tipi. This includes having the tipi at any youth event, and to have a member sit with the tipi as it is a ceremonial tipi and is not to be used for people to fool around in. It is also to be setup at all cultural camps. The cultural day camps eventually turned into an overnight camp at Maple Creek and 23 boys from Dojack participated. From 1997-2005/2006, RPS held 37 cultural camps with youth from the Paul Dojack Centre.
Today, the tipi is used for pipe ceremonies at different Indigenous events including Treaty Days in Fort Qu’Appelle, National Indigenous Peoples Day, and at the Smudge Walk.
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