Tory Aboriginal Caucus chair Rob Clarke, a First Nations’ MP from Saskatchewan. Photo courtesy of Rob Clarke

Aboriginal Caucus chair finds vocation in law-making

  • January 24, 2013

Former RCMP officer now tries his hand at law enforcement at the legislative level

MP Rob Clarke, whose private member’s bill C-428 could lead to a major updating of the Indian Act, sees lawmaking and law enforcement as a calling.

A member of Saskatchewan’s Muskeg Lake First Nation, Clarke grew up in Slocan, B.C., a village of about 400 people with an Anglican church and a Catholic church. He attended both from time to time, Sunday school at the Anglican church and even altar serving at the Catholic church for a while even though he was not a baptized Catholic.

“It was a small town,” he said.

During his time altar serving, he was going through a process to become Catholic, studying the Bible, but never completed it

But Clarke, who chairs the Conservative’s Aboriginal Caucus on Parliament Hill, considers himself deeply spiritual with strong religious beliefs even if they don’t find expression in organized religion.

His first sense of calling came through the example of his brother-in-law who serves with the Edmonton police force. When he watched him on the job “helping someone out of the kindness of his heart,” he said he “knew it was my calling.”

“Policing is not just about law enforcement,” said the 18-year RCMP veteran who was first elected to serve the Saskatchewan riding of Desnethé–Missinippi– Churchill River in 2008.

“It’s about reaching out and helping people, offering a hand, lending an ear at a coffee shop and hopefully offering a solution.”

As a member of the RCMP, he was posted to First Nations communities in Saskatchewan where he became actively involved in the community, coaching minor hockey, refereeing and participating in a range of other community events.

“That’s the best way to get to know a community, by participating,” he said.

That participation also helped him understand “the issues and challenges” facing that community.

A big turning point in his life came in 2006 when two RCMP officers under his command were shot and killed.

Something like that “changes everybody,” he said, of the July 7, 2006 event in Spiritwood, Sask., that shifted his life’s course.

“When I see other individuals put their lives on the line to serve their country, I looked at what else I can do out there to make a difference.”

He became attracted to the Conservative Party because he liked its law-and-order agenda.

But he also carried deep concerns about First Nations peoples beyond merely “maintaining order” based on the “laws of the land” and wanted a different approach.

Bill C-428 is his way “to legislate some kind of change.”


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