Ed Kelly laughs with Insp. Dee Stewart (left) and retired RCMP Const. Janet Terbasket. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

VIDEO: Honouring ceremony in Chilliwack for first ever Indigenous RCMP officer

Ed Kelly said he was humbled and deeply honoured by the big turnout in Chilliwack

The crowd at Tzeachten Community Hall was peppered with red serge and gratitude more than 60 years after Ed ‘Hawk’ Kelly Jr. became the first ever Indigenous officer to join the RCMP.

Kelly said he was “deeply honoured” to see such a large turnout of well-wishers Wednesday in Chilliwack.

“My childhood dream was to become a Mountie, a member of the Queen’s cowboys as they used to call us,” Kelly said.

It certainly wasn’t “easy” to be the first Indigenous member to join the force when Kelly did, said Inspector Dee Stewart, Officer in Charge of Indigenous Policing Unit, during her presentation.

“You took a step in 1959 and I’m here to acknowledge that I know it wasn’t an easy one,” she told Kelly.

“But if there were never any firsts, there wouldn’t be me,” she said. “Today standing before you is an Indigenous woman in charge of Indigenous policing.”

The deliberate act of recognition was important, Stewart said, and ingrained in First Nations culture, even though Kelly tried to say what he did wasn’t special, he was just following his dream.

Insp. Stewart was flanked by retired RCMP Constable Janet Terbasket, and several Indigenous officers in red serge to stress the importance of what Kelly achieved in his four years on the force as an RCMP officer.

“You are part of our family, whether it was for a long time or a short time,” Stewart told Kelly.

“I hope you feel validated today, that your career choice with the RCMP was the right choice, because it led you to several other opportunities for service within your community, and the RCMP.”

The officer told Kelly that “the people behind you want to say thank you” for being the first.

“Nobody stands alone, and nobody runs a unit alone,” Stewart said, her voice again faltering with the power of emotion.

There were Sto:lo Chiefs and Grand Chiefs in attendance, as well as Indigenous Policing Unit officers, dignitaries and RCMP brass at the event on June 26.

There was even someone from Kelly’s Grade 1 class in Vancouver, who he hadn’t set eyes on in about 74 years, who arrived with a bouquet of flowers and a few stories to offer.

Chilliwack’s top cop, Supt. Bryon Massie called it a “very, very important day” for the force and he thanked Kelly for the service to his community.

“You are part of history,” Massie said.

There were many people reconnecting or making connections through Kelly in the community hall, which was apt since the whole idea for the recognition event actually stemmed from social media conversations and connections forged on Facebook.

There were prayers, songs, and drumming to touch the heart, as well as tears, laughter, and gratitude. There were friends, family, troop members, acquaintances, and local officials to wish the guest of honour well, as they were also celebrating his 80th birthday. There was a beautiful catered lunch to enjoy after the open mic and closing remarks, and several memories made that day.

READ MORE: Ed Kelly’s dream was to be a Mountie


@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

 

Ed Kelly flanked by Mounties listening to the Highwater Drum Group during his recognition ceremony at Tzeachten Hall. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Ed Kelly greets friends during a honouring ceremony for him at Tzeachten Hall on Wednesday. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Mementoes from Ed Kelly’s career displayed on a table at Tzeachten Hall Wednesday. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Ed Kelly rises to his feet as the head table applauds him at Tzeachten Hall on Wednesday. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Former RCMP officer Ed Kelly is blanketed during an honouring ceremony at Tzeachten Hall on Wednesday. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Insp. Dee Stewart, Officer in Charge of Indigenous Policing, thanks Ed Kelly during a honouring ceremony for him at Tzeachten Hall on Wednesday. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Ed Kelly (second from right) chats with members of the big drum group Highwater at Tzeachten Hall on Wednesday. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Unique commencement ceremony as Chilliwack students graduate in small groups

It took five days for the high school to film all of its 370 graduates walking across the stage

Chilliwack RCMP offer tips to thwart car thieves

Summer is a busy season for thieves who profit stealing from cars left at parks and beaches

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

New platform allows readers to make a one-time or ongoing donation to support local journalism

Chilliwack musician releases new song to raise money for music therapy charity

Kellen Saip’s song ‘We’re All In This Together’ will bring in funds for Music Heals

Unity Christian’s Olivia Lounsbury commits to Camosun Chargers

The Chilliwack basketball standout makes the next-level leap to the PACWest squad this fall

B.C. records no new COVID-19 deaths for the first time in weeks

Good news comes despite 11 new test-positive cases in B.C. in the past 24 hours

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

New platform allows readers to make a one-time or ongoing donation to support local journalism

BREAKING: Langley Gabby’s Country Cabaret announces ‘heartbreaking’ permanent closure

Owner Steve Gallagher ‘holds out hope’ of a new future for the 35-year-old nightlife hotspot

BC Corrections to expand list of eligible offenders for early release during pandemic

Non-violent offenders are being considered for early release through risk assessment process

Officials looking for answers after Abbotsford football star found dead in Sask. lake

Saskatchewan Health Authority looking into circumstances surrounding Samwel Uko’s hospital visit

Fraser Valley driver featured on ‘Highway Thru Hell’ TV show dies

Monkhouse died Sunday night of a heartattack, Jamie Davis towing confirmed

B.C. visitor centres get help with COVID-19 prevention measures

Destination B.C. gearing up for local, in-province tourism

Most Read