HALIFAX – A member of the RCMP whose passion has been to recognize black history firsts within the police force and Nova Scotia communities is marking a first of his own. Sergeant Craig Smith – who used to serve with the RCMP in Yarmouth – has been appointed a Member of the Order of Merit of the Police Forces.
“I am the first black RCMP member from Nova Scotia to receive this honour,” he tells the Vanguard. “I won't know if I am the first in Canada until I see the rest of the list.”
Established in October 2000, the Order of Merit of the Police Forces – according to the website of the Governor General of Canada – honours the leadership and exceptional service or distinctive merit displayed by the men and women of the Canadian Police Services, and recognizes their commitment to this country.
Particular focus is on exceptional merit, contributions to policing and community development.
On these fronts Sgt. Smith is no stranger.
He has written several books focusing on the accomplishments of black RCMP members and other African Canadians and African Nova Scotians. While he thinks it is vitally important to acknowledge and remember the early pioneers and trailblazers – and also to chronicle the history and legacy of the RCMP when he comes to its black members – Smith also writes these books hoping they’ll find their ways into the hands of students.
During his lifetime, including before he became a member of the RCMP, Smith has worked with the community YMCA in Halifax and the Halifax North Memorial Public Library on Gottingen Street.
In the 1990s when he witnessed a riot in the city, Smith became involved with a Black Community Liason Committee to help build bridges between the black community and the police.
As a member of the RCMP – he’s been with the force since 1977 – he’s been involved in community policing, victim services and crime prevention.
At the community level, he’s served on numerous boards and committees.
Aside from the many awards and accolades he’s received for his efforts throughout the years, in 1999 he was also inducted into Nova Scotia’s Black Wall of Honour.
Last December, Smith was awarded a Dr. Burnley Allan (Rocky) Jones Award from the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission for his work in promoting human rights. Smith was honoured for his “longtime commitment to community development in the African-Nova Scotian community through his work.”