Jayda Noyes, Daily Herald
Police Chief Jon Bergen announced Jason Stonechild as his deputy chief on Monday. Stonechild has been in the acting position since July.
He started with the Prince Albert Police Service (PAPS) in 1993, serving in many roles including staff sergeant and inspector.
He also has a masters degree focusing on policing and security, was vice-president of the Saskatchewan Federation of Police and the longest serving president of the Prince Albert Police Association.
Stonechild became emotional speaking to the crowd at City Hall, addressing other officers, Indigenous leaders and his family.
“When I started going down that (administrative) path, I never had my sights set on being at the top of the organization from the management perspective, but I’ve always had a keen interest in influencing the work environment for our members,” said Stonechild.
Having a Cree background, he said it’s important for the community to have a diverse representation.
“It is a big weight to carry on the shoulders, but I intend to carry it as far as I can.”
However, being a role model for the Indigenous community doesn’t come without feeling afraid or intimidated, he said.
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“In Prince Albert, the most significant stakeholder for police is the Indigenous community, is leaders like Brian Hardlotte with the Prince Albert Grand Council (PAGC)…That is something close to my heart,” he said.
He admitted many times to being an emotional person, but it’s a trait he feels will benefit the service and the city.
“I listen and I care and I try to find solutions for them—that’s part of my job, but in a responsible way that’s responsible to the citizens in Prince Albert, but citizens expect that we take care of our members and that we are emotional leaders, both Jon and I,” he said.
Stonechild and Bergen presented Elder Julie Pitzel with a gift of traditional beaded slippers.
Pitzel has been working in the Victim Services Unit and as resident elder, but is moving on to the Saskatoon Police Service with Chief Troy Cooper.
“Her wisdom has been invaluable for us,” said Stonechild.
With both Bergen and Stonechild having a history of over 20 years with PAPS, Stonechild said they’ve built a good relationship as leaders.
“You need someone who differs in opinions, who’s going to challenge you,” he said.
“Leadership is leadership, but at the end of the day, we’re a team and we’re friends and that is essential because we have that history and that emotional connection and we’re there for each other. He needs that and I need that.”
Despite Prince Albert being a difficult community to work in with a high crime rate, Stonechild said he’s dedicated to the city.
“It’s my home. I don’t foresee my future anywhere else and I look forward to growing old in this community.”