Nearly 40 years ago, Acting Deputy Chief Peter Yuen was sworn in as a Canadian citizen.
To mark Canada’s 150th anniversary on July 1, he made history by becoming the first Toronto Police officer to assume the role of citizenship court judge at a swearing-in ceremony for 31 immigrants at the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation Toronto Branch in North York.
“I have attended these ceremonies before as a guest, but to be called upon to be the judge is quite a humbling experience,” said Yuen. “This was extra-special because I got the chance to speak to newcomers and they got the opportunity to see the police in a different light.”
Born in Hong Kong, Yuen came to Canada with his family in 1975 and joined the Service 12 years later.
“When I came here as a young boy, I wouldn’t dare approach a police officer much less speak to one,” he said. “But things are different now and I told the new citizens this. The police are here to build relationships with the community. I also told them that if they work hard, they can pursue their dreams.”
Yuen said the new citizens were surprised that a police officer swore them in.
“They were obviously expecting a judge, but I stressed to them that policing in Canada is important and we are part of theircommunity,” he said.