Celebrating Young Leaders

By Ron Fanfair, Toronto Police Service Published: 12:59 p.m. February 15, 2016

Naima Mire’s goal is to become the Service’s first female officer of Somali heritage.

A man in TPS uniform with another man and woman
Chief Mark Saunders with university students Asher Hill and Naima Mire, who were honoured for their leadership

“That’s my desire and I know I am going to accomplish it,” the private investigator said, after being presented with the Keith Forde Youth of Excellent Service Award at the TPS Black History Month celebration on February 12 at police headquarters. She has taken another step towards that goal by applying for an Auxiliary Officer position.

One of five children born to Somali immigrants who arrived in Canada nearly three decades ago, Mire’s interest in law enforcement was fuelled in high school.

Successfully completing Humber College’s Police Foundations program and graduating with a criminal justice degree from the University of Guelph-Humber, she is pursuing a Master’s in criminology in a joint program delivered by the University of Guelph-Humber with Athabasca University.

A Toronto District School Board trustee candidate in 2014, Mire shared the spotlight with Asher Hill, also a recipient of a Keith Forde Award.

The 24-year-old Ryerson University student is a 2008 Canadian junior ice skating champion.

“Keith Forde was a trailblazer and I am happy to be receiving an honour in his name,” said Asher.

A man and woman in TPS uniform
Toronto Police Chaplain Ojo Tewogbade and Parking Enforcement Officer Tanya Chambers

Launched five years ago by the Black Community Police Consultative Committee (BCPCC), the Keith Forde Award is bestowed on students who exemplify leadership and community involvement and reflect society’s best and brightest.

The Service’s first black deputy chief, Forde retired in 2010 after 38 years on the job.

Toronto Police Services Board member Ken Jeffers joined Chief Mark Saunders and other senior Service members at this year’s launch.

“Tonight, we are here to reflect upon, and celebrate, the past as we pay tribute to the invaluable contributions made by the black community to our city, to our country and to this police service,” said Jeffers. “We are products of our history which generally forms the basis of who we are today.

“…I am very pleased that Chief Mark Saunders is the second African-Canadian Chief of Police in Canada and I look forward to providing whatever is required of me to assist him in his very challenging and pioneering role that is ahead of him for a safer and healthier City of Toronto.”

Saunders welcomed the guests to Toronto Police headquarters and said he was delighted to be part of the celebration.

“I didn’t learn about black history in school,” he said. “I remember asking myself if I, and others that looked like me, had any value. Black History Month provides an opportunity for the world to see that we are major contributors and deserve to be here.”

Retired Sergeant Terry James came up with the idea of hosting an annual Black History Month celebration at police headquarters in 1994.

Black History Month evolved from the work of American scholar Dr. Carter Woodson who, in an attempt to spread the concept of African-American history, suggested its celebration during a week in the middle of February.

That month was chosen because it’s the birth month of Abraham Lincoln and the chosen birth month of Frederick Douglass, who was born a slave and therefore was unsure of his actual birth date.

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