At the Service’s Pride Month kick-off at police headquarters on June 4, Chief Mark Saunders requested that Sgt. Henry Dyck assist him with raising the Pride Flag on the seventh floor balcony.
“This is special and a very proud moment for me,” said the surprised officer who works as a Neighbourhood Officer in the Church-Wellesley Village – the epicentre of Toronto’s LGBTQ2+ community. “When I came on the job, the process of coming out in this profession wasn’t easy. There have been a lot of improvements and a movement towards inclusivity and diversity.”
The 15-year veteran joined the Service after serving as a religious minister, working as an assistant manager at a homeless shelter and doing graduate work in history and ethics in Canada and the United States.
Many senior officers joined Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Service members and their allies, joined the Saunders for the ceremony outside the Chief’s office.
He observed that the turnout for the flag-raising was the largest since the ceremony was brought to police headquarters in 2017.
“That is exciting because it makes a statement that as Torontonians and members of Toronto Police Service, we know that if we are going to get it right, it is through inclusion,” said Saunders. “Inclusion is what helps us become stronger and what makes this the greatest city to live in."
“When we talk about the LBGTQ2+ community and the work that has been done, it is safe to say there is a lot more work to do. I know that the keys to our success will be that active listening. If we are going to get it right, it is the ability of continually having those conversations. In order to have them, we have to have that trust.”
Saunders acknowledged Const. Danielle Bottineau, the Service’s LBGTQ2+ Liaison officer, for the work she does to build bridges between the community and the police.
“You have been a tremendous ambassador, not only for the organization, but all the things you have done,” he said.