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

Columbia Basin Trust seeking public feedback for new management plan

There will be a community meeting in Revelstoke in May

Racist incidents on the rise in the Okanagan as coronavirus spreads

UBCO professor not surprised by recent incidents

Ministry proposing dust control plan for Westside Rd.

Dust from industrial operations in the area is a concern

51 health professionals send letter to Trudeau, Horgan panning northern B.C. pipeline

They point to studies about the health and climate change risks from pipeline

UPDATE: Firefighter injured in West Kelowna structure fire

West Kelowna fire crews responded to the blaze at 9:53 p.m. Tuesday

Fake meat and a latte? Starbucks adds Beyond Meat in Canada

The Seattle roaster has talked about introducing plant-based patties in the U.S., but has yet to do so

Groundhogs got it wrong: spring isn’t coming soon, Weather Network says

The only part of B.C. to warm up early will be Victoria

Protecting privacy key to stopping spread of COVID-19, B.C. health officials say

The number of coronavirus cases in B.C. remains at seven

Fire crews battle large blaze in West Kelowna

Reports of multiple structures on fire in the Colleen Road area

From seed to salad: Providing purpose for Okanagan inmates

“I planted every one of these, it makes me feel good, they’re like all my little babies.” - inmate Kim

Most Read