Though it has been more than a year since Sergeant Stephen Henkel returned from a year-long assignment in Haiti, the country and its people are still very fresh in his mind.
Assigned to Haiti’s Coast Guard, Henkel developed training programs and accompanied Haitian military personnel on long-range patrols, in addition to mentoring and training local officers. He also assisted with counter-narcotics patrols and supervised officers at the satellite Coast Guard stations in Cap Haitien and Les Cayes.
One of the highlights of Henkel’s Haitian experience was the Sundays he spent at a local orphanage, Le Main Divine.
Hundreds of orphanages exist across Haiti to accommodate children who lost their parents in the January 2010 earthquake and others whose families are too poor to take care of them.
“The quality time spent with those kids on Sundays and at Christmas is something I will never forget,” recalled Henkel, at a ceremony at the Toronto Police College on December 15 to recognize Service members who had served overseas. “…In addition, it was great to just bond with the locals.”
A McMaster University forensic anthropology graduate, with a longstanding interest in drowning investigations and underwater forensics, Henkel – a Homicide investigator – was among Toronto Police officers – active and retired – presented with Canadian Peacekeeping Service Medals.
“It’s a great honour to receive this award,” said Sergeant Stephen Sadler, who served in Afghanistan four years ago. “Being recognized for working overseas wearing the TPS patch means a lot to me.”
Other medal recipients were Staff Sergeants Kelly Gallant and Kimberly O’Toole, Sergeants Derrick Gaudet, Eric Goodwin, Tyrone Hilton and Jodi Mitchell, Detective Ruth Moran, Constables Greg Boltyansky, Tracy Flumian, Marie-Josee Fournier and Todd Parker and retired officers Joe Zubek, Paul Vorvis and Reginald Pitts.
United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti medals were presented to Henkel and Constables Antoinette Rowe and Guy Kama, Sergeant Ennis Spencer was the recipient of an Operational Service Medal for serving in Afghanistan and Constable Sergey Proger was awarded a Peacekeeping Coin for his service in Ukraine.