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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

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

$45K in donations received after Pitt Meadows woman, man die in Tulameen

Sarah MacDermid, 31, and Casey Bussiere, 37, died August long weekend

Former Summerlander receives Emmy nomination for makeup work

Lucky Bromhead recognized for her work with Canadian sitcom Schitt’s Creek

Morning Start: High heels were first designed for men

Your morning start for Monday, Aug. 10, 2020

QUIZ: Do you know the truth?

In what has been described as a post-truth era, how much do you know about truth and lies?

EDITORIAL: Managing wildfires

Wildfires have the potential to cause significant damage within our province

B.C. records 30-50 new COVID-19 cases a day over weekend, no new deaths

Many of those testing positive were identified by contact tracing for being linked to other confirmed infections

Five B.C. First Nations call out Canada for ‘discriminatory’ food fish practices

West Coast nations say government ignoring court-won right to chinook and coho

No new COVID-19 cases in Kelowna over the weekend

Kelowna has nine of the Interior Health region’s 13 active cases

Rent-relief program becomes new front in fight between Liberals, opposition

Opposition trying to draw parallels between decision to have Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. run program and the WE controversy

West Kelowna woman upset with RCMP response to street brawl

A physical altercation between a group of teens and a group of adults erupted on a West Kelowna street Sunday evening

Kelowna real estate agent fined $6,500 for ‘misleading’ website

The website listed several services its owner was not licensed to provide

Ottawa sets minimum unemployment rate at 13.1% for EI calculation

Statistics Canada says the unemployment rate was 10.9 per cent in July

UFO trackers set their sights on Revelstoke skies

Rob Freeman UFO World Explorer and crew went up Sale Mountain

Most Read