Ed Kelly holds his RCMP Depot graduation photo from 1959. (Jennifer Feinberg/ The Progress)

First ever Indigenous person to join the RCMP to be honoured in B.C.

Hawk Kelly said becoming a Mountie was his dream job as a kid

Edward “Hawk” Kelly Jr. was the first Indigenous person in the history of the force to serve in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Because he was the first, Kelly effectively paved the way for hundreds of police officers of First Nations ancestry who followed in his footsteps.

“I feel so humbled by all of this,” Kelly told Black Press.

Kelly will be honoured in Chilliwack at a special event on June 26.

The celebration will mark Kelly’s 80th birthday, as well as 60 years since he graduated from the RCMP Training Academy, known as “Depot” in 1959.

There are currently about 150 RCMP members across B.C. who hail from First Nations communities.

Kelly was sworn in as a member in 1958, and then completed his RCMP training at Depot in 1959, two years after he graduated from Chilliwack secondary.

“I didn’t actually know at the time that I was the first status Indian to serve,” Kelly said. “I just applied for the job that had been my dream job. I always wanted to become a Mountie.”

Nicknamed “Hawk” by his great-grandfather, Kelly said he earned the name because he had sharp eyes like a hawk.

The next day after his graduation from Depot, Kelly boarded a train and headed out to his first posting in Edmonton, to guard cell blocks, before moving on to serve as a constable in the Westblock detachment.

Kelly was an RCMP officer for about five years, in varying roles. He later served as Tzeachten First Nation Chief for two terms, worked for tribal police, and was a park ranger for BC Parks for almost 20 years.

So what made him decide to become an RCMP officer all those years ago?

It was the impressive uniform, especially the red serge, that made him want to be an officer as a child, Kelly replied. The idea that he could really “help people” right across Canada fuelled his dream of becoming a Mountie.

Kelly’s role as the “first” was little known, until it came up recently when he was contacted through Facebook by some, including an RCMP inspector, who felt his achievement should receive some formal recognition.

The public is invited to join members of the RCMP Indigenous Policing Services, as well as Tzeachten First Nation, and Ts’elxwéyeqw Tribe, friends and family for the special event to honour Kelly. The celebration is at Tzeachten Hall at 45855 Promontory Road on Wednesday, June 26, from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. RSVP by email to theungerz@outlook.com

READ MORE: Horse rescue aided by FN policing efforts


@CHWKjourno
jfeinberg@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

In 1959 Ed Kelly was the first First Nations person with status to graduate from RCMP Depot and 60 years later that fact is being recognized.

Ed Kelly and some tribal police colleagues. (submitted)

Ed Kelly holds his RCMP graduation photo from Depot taken in 1959. (Jennifer Feinberg/ The Progress)

Ed ‘Hawk’ Kelly. (submitted)

Just Posted

‘It affects everybody:’ Trudeau’s brownface photos worry Wet’suwet’en chief

Skeena-Bulkley Valley Liberal candidate declines to comment on prime minister’s indiscretion

Village might earn $384,000 in camp deal

The Village of Burns Lake is set to receive hundreds of thousands… Continue reading

Helping the Burns Lake community for 13 years

In its 13 years of existence, the Burns Lake and District Community… Continue reading

TV signals restored, rebroadcast society says

Television reception for Burns Lake and Southside residents with regular TVs was… Continue reading

VIDEO: Trudeau asks Canada to look to current, not past, actions on race

Liberal leader says he never spoke about the racist photo because he was embarrassed

Horvat paces Canucks to 6-1 pre-season win over Oilers

Vancouver improves to 3-1 in NHL exhibition action

Legislature gifts, clothing, travel need better control, B.C. auditor says

Audit follows suspensions of managers by Speaker Darryl Plecas

‘Unacceptable’: What politicians have to say about Trudeau in blackface

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi: ‘When I saw that picture last night, certainly it was a sucker-punch’

‘He’s trying to kill me’: Victoria police commandeer boats to reach screaming woman

No charges laid and civilians to be awarded honours after incident on Gorge Waterway

VIDEO: B.C. man accused of assaulting sex worker loses temper in interrogation

Defence lawyer says statements made by accused Curtis Sagmoen should be deemed inadmissible

John Horgan promises action after fatal mid-Island bus crash

Premier cites students, local Indigneous community as reason to repair the road

Teens charged in stabbing death of B.C. man in strip mall parking lot

Two youths, aged 15 and 16, charged in Aug. 16 killing of South Surrey’s Paul Prestbakmo

Forestry watchdog warned B.C. government about Bamfield Road in 2008

Ombusman’s specific concerns re-surface in wake of bus crash that killed two students

Most Read