In school just a few days after landing in Canada as a refugee, the elementary-aged Syrian girl joined her Sheppard Public School classmates on the ice for the first time.
“You could tell she was doing this for the very first time and she was very scared,” said Sergeant Michelle Masters, who helped the nine-year-old lace up her skates. “She also looked terrified when I, and the other officers, entered the arena. But by the end of the session, she had figured out how to skate a bit and she was comfortable being around us.”
Sergeant Steve Hicks, who often works with the school’s principal to give kids a chance to interact with officers, had promised that his officers on duty in the area would drop by anytime the kids were skating at the Grandravine Arena. They got their opportunity January 19.
Constables Kevin Brushett and Raymond Hobson were with Masters and had the opportunity to help the kids develop their skills on the ice, adding skates to their standard uniform.
“They went on the ice and skated with the kids,” said Masters. “There were about 30 kids from Grades 3 to 5 and we enjoyed being in the young people’s presence. It was also obvious they relished having us around.”
Masters and her crew have been quite active in connecting with the community in 31 Division, where she has been assigned the last six years.
She, Hobson and a Youth in Policing Initiative (YIPI) student attended a prayer service a few months ago at Rivers of Life Ministry.
“Pastor Deb Robb had suggested, at one of the Community Policing Liaison Committee (CPLC) meetings, that our officers drop by the church and interact with the young people with the goal of working with them to break down barriers, real or perceived,” said Staff Sergeant Richard Blanchard, of the Community Response Unit. “The church believes it is important to take a proactive response to crime in order to forge better community relations between youth and police. We want our youth to know that our men and women in uniform are here to help.”
Hobson continued to attend the church on Sundays and developed a great relationship with the youths and clergy.
On January 21, the church made a presentation to Hobson at 31 Division.
“The young people are very excited to have him in our midst,” said Robb. “He seems relaxed and natural among us. We are ever-so-grateful for this partnership. I have every confidence that our collaboration will be rewarding for the community we serve.”
Masters said she’s proud of Hobson and the other officers on her team.
“It’s a great group. They enjoy working in the community and they demonstrate a lot of initiative,” she added.