STANDOFF, ALBERTA — Const. Tasha Melting Tallow hopes her story will help convince Indigenous youth to consider law enforcement as a lifelong career.
Melting Tallow, a member of the Blood Tribe, took part in a recruitment drive Friday in Standoff, Alta., a Blackfoot community about 200 kilometres south of Calgary.
The 24-year-old said she thought about being an officer in high school, but life put that dream on hold.
"I got pregnant when I was 15. It's crazy. I kind of left it behind and just did the mom phase for about seven years," she said in an interview with The Canadian Press.
After the birth of her second child, Melting Tallow said she met a Blood Tribe inspector who encouraged her to apply.
"I started the process where you disclose most of everything that you've done in your past and all the bad things you've done. I got the call back and here I am," she said with a laugh.
Representatives from the Blood Tribe Police, RCMP, Canada Border Services Agency, Canadian Armed Forces, Calgary and Lethbridge police and emergency services set up booths at a local community hall in what was a combination of a pancake breakfast and a career day.
Melting Tallow said she hopes to get through to some young people who may think police are the enemy.
"A lot of people look at police and think we're the bad ones, but I don't think people really take the time to find out who we really are," she said.
"We're just as human as anyone else. I think to get young people is just the purpose behind policing. You can give back to your community."
Acting Sgt. Hadiga Little Wolf is involved in recruiting for the Blood Tribe. She's originally from the nearby Piikani Nation and said her experience growing up made her want to help others.
"I was in foster homes. I do remember dealing with police and all my dealings with police, I feel, were very scary," Little Wolf said.
"I want to be there to help, just to be that familiar face when you show up to calls for people to feel comfortable, to have trust in the police and be able to talk to them."
Allan Big Sorrel Horse, who also belongs to the Blood Tribe, said he is hoping to do something good with his life. He is 15, but already interested in police work.
"I think I'd do a pretty good job if I were able to help out. I know a little bit about it. I don't know if this is a good thing to admit, but I used to get into trouble. I know how people move, what people out there do," he said.
"I don't like sitting on my butt and being lazy and all and I've been doing that a lot recently."
Calgary police Const. Andy Buck said the service needs to hire a lot of members in the coming years and it's important to help the public see policing is a viable career option.
"There's a lot of opportunity. And in terms of minimum qualifications for people to be eligible to apply, most people are going to meet those qualifications, which surprises a lot of people," Buck said.
"Obviously once they meet those qualifications and submit an application, that's when the testing starts. Really, it's an easy career to be eligible to apply for."
RCMP Const. Omid Nezami had several young people stop to ask about joining the national police force.
"We value Indigenous communities and we work together with Indigenous communities and it's only right we help empower them and recruit them," Nezami said.
"We're out here trying to build those trusting relationships and trying to regain trust and showing them they can be part of the solution."
Little Wolf said she gives the young people she talks to the same advice.
"I'd say you'll never be ready to do something. Just dive right in and do it."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 16, 2022.
Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press