The second season of the APTN documentary series, Tribal Police Files, will be filmed in Rama and focus on the work of the Rama Police Service.
“I think it’s a great way to showcase First Nations policing, it’s a way to showcase the work of our officers and to see what we do day in and day out,” said Rama Police Chief John Domm. “It’s also an opportunity to show the partnerships we have with other agencies and the public.”
The show does not follow the blueprint of the Cops series that is popular in the United States. While there is an element of that action, its focus is broader, says host and producer Steve Sxwithul’txw, a former First Nations cop.
“What I know is that police officers are probably the most under-appreciated people among first responders, so it’s really important for me to show and highlight First Nations police officers and what they do on a daily basis,” Sxwithul’txw told OrilliaMatters. “There’s a certain way to deal with our own people … There’s a reason why there’s First Nations policing across the country because some of the other services that were out there were not giving First Nations people the services they need.”
So, while the show will have lots of action, there will also be time and effort invested into showcasing the culture of Rama. That means talking to elders and youths about the community, highlighting important festivities and events and “intertwining that with the action we find in Rama,” said Sxwithul’txw. “It’s important to understand this is a cultural show for us.”
To underline that, the series will be translated into Ojibway, the tradition language of the Chippewas of Rama.
“There will certainly be some action in terms of what we do whether it’s on the water, on our motorcycles or in the cruiser,” added Domm. “But there’s components of the show that cover the culture, language and tradition as well as the geography and the natural beauty of Rama.”
He said it will be challenging to have a film crew documenting potentially dangerous and sensitive situations.
“There are still some questions around what they will film, who they film and what events they want to capture along the way,” said Domm. “They have to put it together so it’s attractive to the audience and respectful of the community and the work that’s being done. It’s a tall order.”
He said his officers are “intrigued” about the concept and he received mostly positive feedback when he “broached the notion with them. Cautious might be an appropriate use of language … there’s lots of unknowns, such as what mechanisms are in place to safeguard everyone. I’m sure there will be a learning curve for all of us.”
Domm said he could see why Rama would be ideal for the show. He said the force is busy, spends a “significant portion of what we do” policing for Casino Rama patrons, yet also is a community police agency.
“We have a mix of officers: some from Rama, some First Nation officers not from Rama and some non-Indigenous and we all work cohesively together,” said Domm. “There are complexities in policing a small community when you grew up here. Either they’re related to you, you grew up together, you went to school together, played sports together, worked part-time jobs together … it’s very close knit and everyone knows everyone else and much of their business. It’s a challenge at times.”
It’s a challenge that Sxwithul’txw relishes. The series is his baby and he’s looking forward to a second season after the success last year when the Stl’atl’imx Tribal Police Service in B.C. was featured.
“I am the creator of the series and the producer but I’m also directing this year and I’ve got a formula in my mind to make it even better than Season 1,” he said “Not a lot of shows get a second season. I’m very, very excited to come into Rama and Orillia, meet everyone … it’s going to be great.”
Domm agrees. “This is a great way to showcase this little nugget we have on this side of the pond and a great opportunity to partner with the film company.”
The film company will be in Rama for the first two weeks of April and then will return for two-week stints in June, July and August.
“We have 43 days of shooting,” said Sxwithul’txw, who could not give specific dates as to when the 13 half-hour episodes will be broadcast. “All I can say is it expects to be aired in 2019.”
For more information about the series, visit tribalpolicefiles.com