Heartfelt thanks given to Cst. Jordan Mullen, moving on after four years in Port Hardy

Councillor Darryl Coon presents Jordan Mullen with a carving on behalf of Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw. (Zoë Ducklow)
Jordan Mullen shared some of his favourite memories in Port Hardy. (Zoë Ducklow)
Corporal Chris Voller aknowledged the strength it took the Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw First Nations to meet the RCMP at the table, and allow them to be part of the community after all the painful history. (Zoë Ducklow)
Hereditary chief Thomas Henderson made a point of saying the gathering for Mullen was “not a goodbye; it’s a see ya later.” (Zoë Ducklow)
Elder Mary Johnson, with Dean Wilson, thanked Cst. Jordan Mullen for the time he spent with Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw elders. (Zoë Ducklow)
Hereditary chief Willie Walkus spoke of what it means for the young people to see a positive relationship between the nations and RCMP. (Zoë Ducklow)

RCMP Constable Jordan Mullen is moving away after four years in Port Hardy.

Based on stories shared at a small COVID-19-friendly gathering Wednesday night, he will be missed.

Mullens came to Port Hardy as a regular duty officer and quickly became part of the community. He coached hockey and went to Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw seniors’ lunches. Relationships he built there inspired him to apply for the Indigenous policing position when it became available.

Ever since, he’s been focused on building positive relationships with people in Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw, Quatsino and Kwakiutl First Nations.

It wasn’t long ago that relationship between Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw and the local RCMP officer were bad enough that a send-off party would have been unthinkable.

Chiefs Thomas Henderson and Willie Walkus, and Councillor Darryl Coon all have recent memories of negative interactions with police. Henderson speaks freely about his past skirmishes with cops. Not five years ago, Coon was tasked by Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw council to approach the RCMP detachment in Port Hardy to try to address the adversarial relationship.

With proactive action from both sides, the change was remarkable.

“There used to be a time when we wouldn’t call the RCMP if there was an issue. Now, there’s no hesitation. We’re getting to the point where we work together instead of walking away,” Coon said.

“The stories are a lot funnier now,” said Dean Wilson a Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw staffer who has worked closely with Mullen.

Lots of the change, people said, is thanks to officers like Mullen and Cpl. Chris Voller, who prioritize relationships and community involvement. The arrest aspect of policing is just one aspect, and should be a last resort.

Voller acknowledges the traumatic and abusive history between RCMP and the Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw nations.

“In 1964, the RCMP couldn’t have done more wrong,” he said, referring to when the Gwa’sala and ‘Nakwaxda’xa nations were forcibly moved from their homes northwest and across the Queen Charlotte Strait from Port Hardy, and merged onto one reserve.

Voller also spoke of RCMP officers “in the same uniform we wear” who took children away to residential schools.

“It is humbling that you are willing to meet us at the table,” he told those present.

As much as this gathering was meant to thank Mullen for his service, it included sincere thanks from Mullen and Voller — the two RCMP officers present.

“Thank you for letting me be part of this community. I wish I could stay to take part in all of the initiatives that are going on,” Mullen said.

READ MORE: Port Hardy RCMP discuss reconciliation with First Nations

Voller says Mullen’s the kind of person who got into policing for the right reasons, and it shows.

“He goes out of his way to make sure the people he’s serving and the people he serves with are doing well. You can really tell when a police officer joined to help make the community better. Jordan is one of those people,” Voller said.

As glowing as his words are, he didn’t pull punches on Mullen’s cooking – “Jordan is a terrible cook.”

The two were barbecueing ribs, steaks and burgers for a seniors’ feast at Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw’s elders centre a few years ago. Mullen accidentally started a grease fire. He was about to douse the flames with water when Voller jumped in to stop him, and pulled the flaming barbecue away from the building.

“Here we are trying to host a nice dinner for the community, and he’s thinking, ‘I’m going to burn down the seniors’ centre.’ ” Voller recalled, laughing.

No one was hurt, but Mullen has yet to live down the incident. Perhaps his new detachment — he’s been promoted to detachment commander on Gabriola Island — will provide an opportunity to redeem himself.

Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email: zoe.ducklow@blackpress.ca

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