During a three-day walk from the border of Turkey and Northern Iraq to Greece, Halima Yousif lost her shoes and suffered severe cuts to the bottom of her feet.
Bruised and tired, the then four-year-old was among those rescued by Greek police officers who carried her for the latter part of the journey.
“The kindness of those policemen had an impact on me and I think that is when I said that is what I would like to do when I grew up,” said Yousif.
The family lived in Greece for eight years before moving to Canada.
“We resided near a police station, so there was constant interaction with them and it was positive,” said Yousif.
On December 12, she was among 53 Auxiliary program graduates, who stepped up to serve their community as volunteers. The ceremony took place at the Toronto Police College.
“I have always had a passion for helping and giving back, so when I found out about this program through a friend, I thought it would be a great opportunity for me,” she said.
Yousif, who has three children, volunteers with Halton Women’s Place and is an educational assistant with the Halton District School Board.
The valedictorian for the two graduating classes were Christopher Saliba and Jae Hyun Park.
Park, who migrated from Seoul 12 years ago, has been a part-time reservist with the Canadian military for the last three years.
“As a human being, the best act of engagement is to help others,” the aspiring Toronto Police officer said. “Being an Auxiliary member allows me to do that.”
In each graduating class, the student who demonstrates outstanding performance in the various training programs is presented with the Julian Fantino Award for their proficiency. A former Toronto Police Chief, Fantino was a Metro Toronto Police Auxiliary member for five years before joining the Service in 1969.
The winners were Songul Karakaya and Gurminderpreet Dhaliwal.
Dhaliwal, a security guard at Square One Mall, grew up in Peel with a single mother who told him he could do anything he wants to be.
“That was so reassuring as there were no limitations placed on me,” he said. “All my interactions with police were positive and it’s a career I would like to pursue down the road.”
The Auxiliary program was established 63 years ago in the aftermath of Hurricane Hazel.
Over that time, members have provided countless hours of service during the 2010 G20 Summit, papal visits in 1984 and 2002 during World Youth Day celebrations, at the 2003 Rolling Stones concert and at the sites of the 1962 propane plant explosion in Maple, the 1969 natural gas explosion in Malton and the 1979 trail derailment in Mississauga.
They are involved in every aspect of policing from homicide canvasses to the delivery of crime prevention material. They are just an incredible resource and asset
Auxiliaries volunteer approximately 70,000 hours of their time annually to assist the Service’s community mobilization initiatives, crime prevention programs, special events, parades, searches for missing persons and emergency call outs.
A/Supt. Dave Rydzik said they are an integral part of the Service.
“Our Auxiliary members were front and centre during the Yonge St. Van Attack and the Danforth Shooting,” he said. “They are out and about at every major event that this city puts on. We couldn’t do half of the major events without them. They are involved in every aspect of policing from homicide canvasses to the delivery of crime prevention material. They are just an incredible resource and asset.”