North Memorial School in Portage la Prairie had a first for its students when a special visit from 15 Manitoba First Nations Police Service recruits took place Tuesday. Corporal Derek Smoke says they came in to meet the kids and get involved in the breakfast program and the 'walking bus.'

"Our recruit class is going to be involved in coming in here twice a week," explains Smoke. "I love it. It's great. It's the first time, that I know of, that our recruit class is going to do this, and it's exciting. I know a lot of recruits here are pretty excited about getting involved in helping out and just being here with the kids."

Smoke describes kids as generally being afraid of police, having heard stories from others saying the cops are coming, put your seatbelts on, and so on. He says it puts a large barrier between them and the little ones.

"For myself, anytime I see a little one somewhere, I always make sure I go and talk to them and say hi," continues Smoke. "We're just trying to close that gap between the police and the community. It's starting small, get them used to us, and it works out good for us in the long run."

Smoke adds he'll be there with the recruits each time they come.

Parker was one of the students and shares his excitement to know that a corporal was among them.

"Corporals are really high to ranks," notes Parker.

He said one of the questions students asked the police was how long it took for them to become officers.

"It took them about one year: six months of training and six months of training outside."

Student Lorelia says that also was most interesting to her. 

"They're going to be helping make toast and do Walking School Bus, she adds. "I think it's really cool because I like watching a lot of cop shows and finding out about them. So, I think it's really cool to see them in real life."

"We're lucky that we have police officers here her to protect us from other people," says Parker.

Principal Valerie Smith notes that the school teamed up with the Manitoba First Nations recruits who are giving them their time and energy to help out.

"I can't tell you how important it is in child development to have positive role models to inspire our children," explains Smith, "It'll help them set goals. It'll keep the motivated, bring on better behaviour, and many aspire to be police officers. So, what better way than to have these fantastic role models? it was just a really awesome assembly today and we thank them very much for partnering with us."