Police welcome elder as spiritual advisor

(L to R): Prince Albert Grand Council Grand Chief Brian Hardlotte, Elder Jacob Sanderson, Prince Albert police Chief Jon Bergen and Deputy Chief Jason Stonechild. (Prince Albert Police Service/Submitted)

Elder Jacob Sanderson joins Prince Albert Police Service for guidance and promotion of reconciliation

Deputy Police Chief Jason Stonechild knows the importance of reconciliation in Prince Albert.

He presented their new elder, Jacob Sanderson, a beaded medallion as part of their small welcoming ceremony on Tuesday. Stonechild said it gave him a sense of pride.

“When Elder Sanderson wears the medallion, it symbolizes his role as a teacher and mentor to our service, he has adopted our service as a part of his family.”

They also gave Sanderson a pouch of tobacco and a yellow cloth.

Sanderson will serve as a spiritual advisor to the police, guiding them as they promote reconciliation and what it means.

“We want people to appreciate his history and to learn from it and to receive guidance from a First Nations elder. Just like everybody, they have to receive it in a way that they understand and can connect with and I think he has that skill,” said Stonechild.

Sanderson is from James Smith Cree Nation, which is roughly 60 kilometres north of Prince Albert.

He is an elder for other organizations as well, including Wanuskewin Heritage Park, the Saskatoon Health District, and the Prince Albert Grand Council.

Stonechild said Sanderson speaking at an internal police meeting confirmed that he would be a good fit.

“He had a really strong message and it was well received by the members, so I think that’s when we knew that it was meant to be for our service.”

Stonechild’s passion for reconciliation shows through—his family has a deep history with residential schools and his father was taken into foster care during the Sixties Scoop.

“We lost a lot of our history as First Nations people, but over the years we’ve reconnected,” he explained.

Grasping reconciliation is a means for the police service to fully represent the communities they serve.

“We have to be compassionate to its needs and to things that are underpinning root causes of issues in our society. It’s a real thing that residential schools left a legacy that leads to a lot of our social issues,” said Stonechild.

“(Understanding) how that affected families and how that correlates to kids that are in trouble today, I think that makes a better police officer and that builds trust with the community.”

Elder Julie Pitzel assisted the police service previously to Sanderson.

In December 2018, she moved on to the Saskatoon Police Service to continue her work with Chief Troy Cooper, who preceded current Prince Albert Chief Jon Bergen.

Chief Jon Bergen and Deputy Chief Jason Stonechild thank Elder Julie Pitzel as she moves on from the Prince Albert Police Service on Dec. 17, 2018. (Jayda Noyes/Daily Herald)