A first meeting with Timmins’ newly hired police chief left a favourable impression on Mushkegowuk Council Deputy-Grand Chief Natasha Martin.

Martin was among the dignitaries invited to the change-of-command ceremony held on May 21 which saw the swearing-in of Timmins’ first Indigenous police chief in the city’s 112-year history.

Timmins Police Chief Sydney Lecky is a member of the Peskotomuhkati First Nation. He was born in New Brunswick and is of Indigenous and Jamaican descent.

Deputy-Grand Chief Martin noted the City of Timmins is a commercial and service hub that draws residents from surrounding communities in the region, including all those within Mushkegowuk Council. In recent years, there have been concerns about police interactions with Indigenous community members in Timmins.

Immediately following the swearing-in held at the McIntyre Community Centre, Martin met with the newly appointed police chief who seemed eager to build positive relations with Mushkegowuk Council.

“He knows he doesn’t have jurisdiction within our communities but said he would still like to meet with the chiefs, and he is really looking forward to having a working relationship with us — so that was very encouraging,” said Martin.

Lecky, a 29-year veteran, has spent much of his policing career working in Indigenous communities.

Prior to his arrival in Timmins, he was a police chief with the RCMP in the Northwest Territories, where he oversaw 23 detachments. He has also served as a police chief in the British Columbia cities of Kamloops, Terrace and Mackenzie.

Lecky spoke at the ceremony about wanting to “make a difference working with our Indigenous communities and community members who live work and play here.”

Deputy-Grand Chief Martin was encouraged by his remarks.

“I really think his lens is very different, being Indigenous,” said Martin. “I’m very excited. From what he said at the swearing-in ceremony, he knows what the issues are, especially when it comes to Indigenous people in Timmins. I think his arrival here is a move in the right direction.”