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

City of Duncan, North Cowichan reopening municipal ha

North Cowichan’s municipal hall will reopen on June 15, but for tax payments only.

Preparing to welcome students back to school

It’ll be a short and very different return

Put money into addressing causes of flooding

The real issue is Somenos Creek being totally silted up

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Small businesses in Saltair change with the times

Pandemic creates creative thinking to remain in operation

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

UPDATE: Woman airlifted with serious injuries, baby OK after crash in Nanaimo

Collision happened on Jingle Pot Road in East Wellington on Saturday afternoon

Dump truck in Nanaimo snags power lines, snaps hydro pole, crashes

No injuries in incident Monday morning on Old Victoria Road

Ferry sailings scheduled once again at Nanaimo’s Departure Bay terminal

BC Ferries announces that resumption of service June 3 includes four daily round trips

Island Health signs working agreement to turn former Comox hospital into a ‘dementia village’

Island Health has signed a project development agreement with Providence Living to… Continue reading

Kelowna man charged with harming a hamster

The 20-year-old Kelowna man faces several animal cruelty charges

High tech fish transport system set up to ‘whoosh’ salmon past Big Bar landslide

Fish will spend roughly 20 seconds inside the system, moving at roughly 20 metres per second

Trudeau to seek 10 days of paid sick leave for Canadian workers, says talks are ongoing

Paid sick leave is key to keeping COVID-19 spread under control, prime minister says

Most Read