WTPS wins Canadian best-dressed community relations vehicle award

Wikwemikong Tribal Police Service’s community services truck with its custom thunderbird wrap was recently named as Blue Line Magazine’s best-dressed community relations vehicle, a national accolade.

WIIKWEMKOONG – Wikwemikong Tribal Police Service (WTPS)’s community relations vehicle, which boasts a brilliant thunderbird graphic wrap on its exterior, has just been named by Blue Line Magazine as Canada’s 2020 best dressed police vehicle in the community relations category.

“It’s a very high honour to be recognized nation-wide for designs that were created right here with our very own community and our very own police service. It’s a recognition that we’re on the right track when it comes to providing culturally responsible policing and community-based policing for our people,” said WTPS Police Chief Terry McCaffrey.

Anyone who has attended a Wiikwemkoong-affiliated community event in the past year will likely have spotted the black Dodge Ram with the brilliant red and orange thunderbird. The wrapped vehicle was unveiled at the beginning of April 2019 and its design incorporates components of traditional Anishinaabe teachings and customs, such as the Seven Grandfather Teachings and the word ‘Enaagdawenjiged,’ which translates to “the ones who serve or protect.” This translation was provided by Wiikwemkoong elder and language keeper Phyllis Williams.

There are seven petroglyphs of paw prints on the side. The print of the bison/buffalo represents respect; wolf, humility; beaver, wisdom; eagle, love; bear, courage; turtle, truth; and the Spiritual Being or The Sabe represents honesty.

The thunderbird design that ties the vehicle together is a symbol of protection, strength and new beginnings. It is seen as the messenger for the Creator and provides wisdom by which all Anishinaabe should live.

WTPS worked alongside Fuel Media in Sudbury for graphic design assistance, and Tehkummah-based Beacon Images made final adjustments to make the design fit the vehicle and apply the wrap to the truck.

“We’re glad to have been a part of the whole project,” said Julie Pearson, co-owner and manager of Beacon Images alongside business partner Bob Pearson. “The design looks fantastic; their rebranding has gone well. It’s just a real honour that they won and we were part of it.”

Manitoulin’s own Beacon Images has been the only 3M Graphics Select provider and 3M preferred graphics installer in Northern Ontario for many years, though a new installer has recently opened its doors in Thunder Bay. 

Ms. Heinen said this project serves as an example of the power of Island businesses supporting fellow local organizations.

“We like to take care of our local businesses and we’re capable of doing all kinds of incredible things right here on Manitoulin Island,” she said.

According to Police Chief McCaffrey, the award is a nice gesture but its significance extends to its real-world community impacts.

“The vehicle itself is a teaching tool. It’s vibrant so it can attract our youth to come to us so we can start having some of these important discussions about our Seven Grandfather Teachings which are now embedded in the vehicle,” he said.

He concluded by saying this design will hopefully help to transform the view of police, especially among populations that have had historically difficult relationships with police forces.

“Our police officers, our Enaagdawenjiged, are here to help. We’re community members first and peacekeepers second,” said Police Chief McCaffrey.

WTPS will be officially honoured with the Blue Line Magazine award at the Blue Line Expo on April 21, 2020 in Mississauga. Police Chief McCaffrey also said the service would unveil many more components of its rebranding at a celebration for its 25th anniversary, to be held in December.