As Indigenous Resource Officer (IRO) with the Prince Albert Police Service, Erin Parenteau fulfills a unique role, helping to connect Indigenous victims of crime and trauma with culturally-sensitive supports and resources, including information about the court process, while also working to educate police members and staff on the history and significance of our community’s Indigenous culture.
Trained as an addictions and mental health counsellor since 2009, Erin Parenteau works with the police service’s Victim Services Unit, providing support and referrals to victims of crime. Her role includes recruiting and educating new volunteers, regular participation at Family Information Liaison Unit meetings, and attending HUB meetings twice each week, which bring police together with other community and social agencies, along with health, education, and other groups.
Parenteau enjoys being a voice for women and girls in the community and continues to work to change perceptions of police amongst Indigenous people. Her Indigenous name is Dancing Butterfly Woman and with the support of the Prince Albert Police Service, she is working to relearn the Cree language she lost as a child after starting school.
The position of Indigenous Resource Officer is a provincially-funded position and is one of six operated through police agencies in Saskatchewan. The position includes providing support and referrals to intervention and prevention services within the community, and carries a unique responsibility to be ready, knowledgeable, compassionate and empathetic when working with those who have experienced crime and trauma in our community.
As a leader within the police service, Parenteau is helping to educate police members and staff on Indigenous protocol and history, and supports the police service as it continues to work toward reconciliation and understanding, including assisting PAPS in building on Calls to Justice from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
Parenteau was instrumental in helping to select two new Indigenous police elders in May 2021, and in providing teachings and information about the police service’s new Eagle Staff, a sacred symbol of the organization’s commitment to diversity, inclusion, respect and fairness. The Eagle Staff is proudly displayed in the main boardroom at the Prince Albert Police Service main station. Parenteau provides regular smudging of the Eagle Staff, inviting all members and staff to participate, ask questions and learn.
Her knowledge and experience in traditional medicines and teachings is an integral part of the police service’s work toward understanding, equity and diversity. The role of Indigenous Resource Officer encompasses many different dynamics and takes into consideration the history of Indigenous people in our community and in Canada in supporting victims of crime and those experiencing trauma.
To contact the Indigenous Resource Office or the Prince Albert Police Service’s Victim Services Unit, please call 306-953-4357 or visit www.papolice.ca for more information.