A lesson in safety was rolled out to Little Badgers students last week when the Mounties made a special cameo at the daycare.

On Sept. 2, Invermere RCMP Sgt. Darren Kakuno joined Cranbrook Cst. Monte Webb and Cst Katie Forgeron between 10 and 11 a.m. at the Eva Joseph Learning and Cultural Society, to instruct children about bike safety on the lands of the Akisqnuk First Nation.

“We inevitably have to deal with a lot of negative situations as police officers and it’s positive interactions like this that carries me through all the negative aspects of the job,” said Sgt. Kakuno after the event. “We have a great group of members in our detachment who really enjoy attending these special events; I only wish we had more time to devote to them.”

While there is no formalized schedule to facilitate bike rodeos for children in the Columbia Valley, the RCMP indicated that community requests from daycares and schools are accommodated whenever possible.

“We usually try to run a couple bike rodeos in the spring, unfortunately due to COVID and the closure of schools, this is the first bike rodeo we’ve been able to run this year,” said Kakuno. “Bike rodeos with the younger children are great because they learn valuable safety lessons and good habits before the bad habits set in. I remember when bicycle helmets for recreational riders were first introduced. It wasn’t cool to wear a bike helmet back then. Now you’re not cool if you don’t have a bike helmet. The children are so proud of their helmets. It’s great to see.”

Little Badgers Early Learning Program educator Evelyn Walker had reached out to the RCMP to plan the event for children in the program roughly a month ago, according to Carrie Rickards, general manager of the Eva Joseph Learning and Cultural Society.

“It was really good,” Rickards remarked about the event after the activities concluded. “They all got to spend some time with the police officers. Darren, who is the Sgt. here, came out and rode bikes with all the kids. He even rode around the loop with the older kids.”

She added it’s important for children to meet police officers in positive situations to encourage familiarization at a young age.

“I think the biggest thing with the RCMP is getting familiar and learning that they’re there to help,” Rickards explained, noting that parents were not invited to attend this year due to safety precautions to mitigate the risks of the COVID-19 pandemic. “It’s important to learn bike safety at an early age so that it becomes normal. Exposure to the RCMP, or anybody in uniform, is an important step.”

RCMP Cst. Webb, who serves as the Indigenous liaison officer for Ktunaxa Nation, attended the event at the Akisqnuk First Nation for the first time since being placed in Cranbrook.

“I think the main thing from a policing standpoint is when we meet with kids, whether it be at school or community events, we’re trying to plant the seed that we’re here to help and that’s what we want from all our children is to be recognized as the person you call when you need help, so when you’re doing things like the bike rodeo today, it gets kids used to us,” said Cst. Webb. “We want kids to be like people who we call when we are in trouble. We want to be in the list of appropriate adults to go to for help.”