When Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders joined the Service 36 years ago, there wasn’t a Pride celebration at headquarters. Much has changed in the last three decades, thanks to a community and Service members dedicated to building a positive relationship.
The Pride Flag was raised at police headquarters for the second consecutive year on June 1.
“It’s through a lot of hard work, it’s because of fences that have been knocked down and it is also because of people sitting at tables having conversations that we have been able to achieve a lot,” Saunders said, at the annual Pride reception at headquarters on June 14. “That is what we will continue to do.”
The Chief thanked the LGBTQ community for its collaboration with the Service.
“We will get it right,” he said.
Last April, Toronto Police withdrew its application to march in this year’s Pride parade, following concerns by event organizers that the presence of uniformed officers would make members of the LGBTQ community feel unsafe, but committed to continue building positive relationships.
Toronto Police Services Board (TPSB) Chair Andy Pringle said Pride Month is a significant, joyful and powerful event.
“It is a celebration of love and harmony, of partnership and unity,” he pointed out. “And it is a celebration of the acceptance of all people, of diversity and of our commitment to the fundamental principles of democracy, equality, inclusivity and non-discrimination.”
The TPSB financially supports the annual Pride reception and bursaries.
“It is demonstrated, too, in our commitment to policies which enshrine the importance of equality, equity and fair treatment for all, both members of the Service and members of the community,” said Pringle. “It is critical that we work towards the achievement of these principles in partnership with the community, making our efforts collaborative and therefore much more powerful. As a partner in this project of true equality, it is important, too, that we look inward as an organization and take the measures necessary to foster a workplace that is genuinely welcoming and respectful of diversity in all its forms.”
Since 2009, the TPS LGBTQ Community Consultative Committee (CCC) has been awarding $1,000 bursaries to LGBTQ youth achieving excellence in the community.
This year’s recipients were Adriana Carpanzano, Cheryl Quan and Ams Sweiger.
Able to identify with the LGBTQ2S community at an early age and open to discussing sexuality with her high school peers who struggled with similar issues, Carpanzano completed her undergraduate degree at Ryerson University and aspires to be a law enforcement officer.
“Her wish is to work closely with the LGBTQ community as an officer, helping the Service become less segregated and more inclusive,” said Const. Danielle Bottineau, the Service’s LGBTQ liaison officer. “Her goal is to make everyone feel safe, not only in the LGBTQ community, but also people with mental health issues.”
Quan is a student activist pursuing psychology, biology & anthropology studies at the University of Toronto, while Sweiger is completing a graduate degree in Child & Youth Care at Ryerson University.