A Concise Chronology of Canada’s Colonial Cops

innu demo

Innu demonstrate against NATO and RCMP repression


By M. Gouldhawke (Métis & Cree)
Updated: February 2, 2020
(Originally published December 21, 2019)

“The myth of the RCMP is that they came to protect us from the whisky traders and bad guys. They came to protect the conqueror’s property and they still protect the conqueror’s property.”
– Maria Campbell, Toronto Star, 1989

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) raid of the Gidimt’en checkpoint on Wet’suwet’en territory on January 7, 2019, was not only the enforcement of an injunction on behalf of a pipeline company but also the continuation of the colonialist, imperialist and capitalist history of the force itself.

The RCMP are not so much a domestic policing agency as an occupying foreign army, as highlighted by the fact that the RCMP still maintain their own camp in Wet’suwet’en territory and continue to harass people at the long-running Unist’ot’en healing centre which the nearby Gidimt’en checkpoint had been set-up in solidarity with.

Canada was only six years old when it established the North-West Mounted Police in 1873. This original name for the RCMP outlined their colonial purpose, as the Northwest was not yet fully part of Canada at this time, having only been fraudulently purchased from the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) three years earlier and remaining largely under the effective control of the Métis, Cree, Saulteaux and other Indigenous nations.

Indigenous effective control ran contrary to all fraudulent claims to the territory by Canada, since the HBC had never purchased the land from Indigenous peoples in the first place in order to sell it to anyone, and the Canadian military had to be sent to Red River (Winnipeg) in 1870 to remove the Métis Provisional Government there, and then again in 1885, further west (in what is now Saskatchewan), to put down the Northwest Resistance….

….While the RCMP’s entire history is certainly abhorrent, such behaviour is clearly not aberrant for the force. The RCMP are part of the global structure of colonialism, imperialism and capitalism, and varied forms of oppression must remain part of its working repertoire in order for it to fulfil its function. Only systemic social change can fundamentally address the systemic oppression the RCMP both defends and partakes in itself….

Further reading and sources:

BC Native Blockades (Warrior Publications)

Violence Against Indigenous Women (Warrior No.2, 2006)

List of Controversies involving the RCMP (Wikipedia)

Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (2019)


An Unauthorized History of the RCMP, by Lorne & Caroline Brown

rcmp west

The RCMP’s official 125th anniversary book portrayed Indigenous people as ghosts in the wake of the “March West” which expanded Canadian colonialism by force.

The 1990 Lillooet Lake Road blockade, where members of the Mt. Currie Indian band blocked the road in protest over on-going native land claims.  The RCMP served a court injunction to clear the road and arrested 63 protestors.  Photos by David Buzzard

RCMP attack a Lil’wat/St’at’imc logging blockade and Mohawk solidarity action in 1990
(photo by David Buzzard)

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