Disciplined Ottawa police sergeant makes amends at flotilla for Indigenous youth – Ottawa

Nine months after posting racist comments online about the death of Inuk artist Annie Pootoogook, Sgt. Chris Hrnchiar is still trying to make amends.

“I want to make it better … make myself a better citizen, make myself a better police officer,” said Hrnchiar Wednesday afternoon at Ottawa’s annual Flotilla for Friendship.

The event pairs Ottawa Police Service officers with Indigenous youth, and Wednesday’s flotilla was the first held since Hrnchiar pleaded guilty last November for making the racist remarks,

Pootoogook, an acclaimed and influential Inuk artist whose drawings offered a contemporary take on her culture, was found dead in the Rideau River in September 2016.

In a post following her death, Hrnchiar wrote that “much of the Aboriginal population in Canada is just satisfied being alcohol or drug abusers.” 

​Hrnchiar was charged with two counts of discreditable conduct under the Police Services Act — one for making racist comments, and one for commenting on an open investigation. He pleaded guilty to both counts.

Since then, Hrnchiar has reached out to various people in the local Inuit and Indigenous communities, including Veldon Coburn, who had adopted Annie’s biological daughter Napachie in 2014 and brought Hrnchiar’s remarks to the attention of the police.

“I really couldn’t wait to meet him, and say ‘Look, I’m sorry, I really didn’t do well here,'” said Hrnchiar, before setting off on the canoe journey down the Rideau Canal with Coburn and his children.

“I have a new friendship out of it, And new understandings. And certainly I can learn a lot more from him than he can from me.”

Coburn said that by bringing Napachie and his other children to the flotilla, he was doing his own small part to repair the relationship between…

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