Outgoing Toronto Police Service Aboriginal Peacekeeping Unit (APU) Constable Kim Turner was celebrated at this year’s National Aboriginal Day event at Wellesley Community Centre on June 11.
She retires on July 31 after 26 years with the Service.
Chief Bill Blair led the way, thanking Turner for her enormous contributions to Aboriginal policing in the city.
“We worked in this community together, and Kim’s contribution to building a strong, compassionate and caring relationship between Toronto Police and the Aboriginal community has been nothing short of extraordinary,” he said. “She has brought incredible dedication to this and, frankly, those little feet wear big shoes.”
In 1989, the TPS recognized the need to enhance its relationship with the Aboriginal community and assigned a First Nations officer to the Chief’s Community Liaison Unit.
The APU was established 22 years ago, and Turner has headed the unit since November 2002.
Toronto Police Services Board chair Alok Mukherjee said Turner has been a passionate advocate.
“Kim is known to all of us for her genuine passion, her tireless commitment and her incredible energy,” he said. “There is no doubt that her retirement will leave an indelible mark on our organization. She has been an extraordinary inspiration and friend to many and she will be very much missed.”
Steve Teekens and Staff Superintendent Tom Russell co-chair the Aboriginal Consultative Committee, where members of the community share concerns and work in partnership with police officers.
Russell said Turner has done an outstanding job in strengthening the bond between the Service and her community.
“She has done this for many years,” he added. “She has been a leader and a champion in organizing this event. We want to thank her for her dedication and commitment over the years.”
Constable Christopher Robert, Turner’s replacement, presented her with a traditional ribbon shirt that has the APU logo at the back.
Robert, along with Constables Richard Warman, Dane Ing and Jason Rennie, comprise the recently formed Toronto Police Big Drum. The drum they play – made at a ProAction Cops & Kids camp six years ago – was named Mkwa’s Journey to honour Turner, a member of the Bear Clan.
“It’s our intention to carry on and honour Kim’s journey as she passes into the next stage of the medicine wheel,” said Robert.
Fighting back tears, an emotional Turner said she relished her time with the Service and working with the First Nations community in Toronto.
“This has been an incredible journey,” she said. “I care about my community and the Toronto Police… But’s it’s my time for the next journey.”
The annual Aboriginal Day celebration featured song, dance and drumming.
“It’s wonderful to see young people experiencing Aboriginal culture through such inspiring and creative means,” said Mukherjee. “The singing, dancing and drumming today are truly spectacular to watch and hear. Through your art, movement and voice, you pay a great honour to Aboriginal culture and heritage.”
Eastview Public School students reflected on the significance of National Aboriginal Day.
“It’s a day for me to celebrate and embrace my heritage,” said Shane Cameron. “It’s also a day to celebrate what our ancestors have done for us. It’s also important for non-Aboriginals to learn about our way of life.”
Several senior police officers, including Deputy Chiefs Peter Sloly and Mark Saunders, took part in this year’s celebration that started with the grand entry and concluded with officers joining the community in the round dance.