Fearless. Proud. Committed. Trusting. Kind. These are among the many attributes of the newest Toronto police horse whose name, Ogichidaa, was chosen by members of the city's Indigenous community.
At a ceremony at the Horse Palace on May 1, students who participated in the naming project joined the police officers who serve with the Mounted Unit is officially naming the Clydesdale that serves the city.
Ogichidaa replaces Tecumseh, a 13-year veteran horse, who was officially retired last September.
Students from Eastview Public School and the First Nations School of Toronto were given the opportunity to select the new name.
Grade Five student Sneha Saha, who loves horses, said Ogichidaa was the consensus among the 23 Eastview students that participated in the naming project.
“We had a few names, but this one best suits all of Ogichidaa’s characteristics,” she said.
Grades Five and Six teacher Chris Young, who collected the plaque on behalf of the winning school, agreed with Saha.
“The students researched different names and they felt this one was ideal,” he said. “It’s a very encompassing name based on the fact it has solid meaning behind it.”
Mounted Unit S/Sgt. Graham Queen and Const. Monica Rutledge, of the Aboriginal Peacekeeping Unit, presented the plaque to Young.
Queen said Ogichidaa, a four-year-old Clydesdale weighing almost 1,800 pounds, is a fearless warrior.
“A warrior needs to be fearless, yet humble, proud, trusted and kind,” said Queen. “A leader displays qualities in order to be effective and many of these are displayed within this horse’s character.”
At the start of 2005, retired Sgt. Jim Patterson approached Rutledge and Const. Kim Turner, who is now retired, about assigning an Indigenous name to one of the horses.
Tecumseh was named after the Native American leader of the Shawnee and a large tribal confederacy seeking an independent nation for indigenous people, who was an ally of the British during the War of 1812. He died in October 1813 during the Battle of the Thames in southwestern Ontario.
Ogichidaa will start working on the streets of the city in June.
“Clydesdales are power horses and they normally put their heads down and move forward,” said Queen. “They are not afraid of noise and other things happening around them.”
Const. Ryan Price, who became a police officer 18 years ago, will ride Ogichidaa.
“I have been on him for the last 10 months and he’s a very committed and kind,” added Price, who was assigned to the Mounted Unit a decade ago. “He’s also very gentle and always performs his duties to the fullest when requested to do so.”
Ogichidaa represented the Service with distinction at the annual North American Police Equestrian Championship in Hamburg, New York, last October.
Supt. Rob Johnson and Insp. Lauren Pogue attended the event and Aboriginal Consultative Committee co-chair Frances Sanderson delivered a prayer in a ceremony that featured a drum song.