Toronto Police Inspector Sonia Thomas was the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award at the International Women Achievers Awards (IWAA) ceremony in North York on March 9.
“If anyone had told me, 32 years ago, that I would be receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award, I would have told them they were out of their mind,” said Thomas. “When I joined, there was only one other black woman (retired officer Terry James). A few small steps have been made, recently, with the promotion of black women to senior ranks, but we still have a long way to go.”
Chief Mark Saunders and Superintendent Shaun Narine attended the event to support Thomas.
“Sonia is one of those people who understand relationships, which is key in the work we do,” said Saunders. “It’s one of the most critical pieces in order for us to move forward. The fact that there are external entities that recognize her work in fostering relationships and her other sterling contributions to the Service and the community she serves is very worthy.”
Narine is the unit commander at 53 Division where Thomas is assigned.
“Sonia is caring, compassionate and extremely dedicated to the community and the Service,” he said. “This celebration is absolute justification for all the good work she has done over the years.”
Thomas joined Canada’s largest municipal police service in 1986 after responding to a subway advertisement for officers.
The Oakwood Collegiate Institute graduate started her law enforcement career at 13 Division, in the Primary Response Unit, before moving to headquarters to work in the recruitment office. She also was assigned to 54 Division, before being promoted to sergeant in 2001 and staff sergeant six years later.
When now-retired Deputy Chief Keith Forde was appointed the training college’s unit commander in January 2003, he recruited Thomas – born in Toronto to Jamaican parents – to work for him.
It was Forde who encouraged her to apply for the senior rank position which she attained seven years ago.
Event planner and community worker Princess Boucher, a municipal candidate for Brampton City Council in 2010 and York West four years later, established the IWAA in 2011 to honour female achievers and showcase their accomplishments.
Corporate Communications Constable Jeniffer Sidhu says Thomas is a compass she uses for her own career.
"Whenever I need help making a decision at work I think 'what would Sonia do' and I have my answer," says Sidhu, who worked alongside Thomas in the Training & Education unit.