Retired Constable Kim Turner, who headed the Toronto Police Service (TPS) Aboriginal Peacekeeping Unit (APU) for over a decade, has passed away.
She was 63.
Joining the Service on July 19, 1988, Turner, who was Ojibwe, served for many years at 51 Division before being assigned to the APU.
Deputy Chief Peter Yuen worked with her at the Divisional Policing Support Unit.
“I witnessed first-hand what a kind and compassionate person Kim was,” he said. “Of the 26 years she was with our Service, she served as a champion and liaison to the Indigenous Communities and the Aboriginal Peacekeeping Unit for 12.”
Supt. Stacy Clarke said Turner loved being an officer and advocated for the communities she served.
“Kim also worked tirelessly to amplify the voices within the current realities of systemic racism and generational trauma for our communities,” she pointed out.
The Toronto Police Services Board (TPSB) wrote in a tweet that Turner was a formidable force who will be missed by the many who loved her.
“She tirelessly and passionately worked to bring Toronto Police and the city’s Indigenous communities, in the spirit of positivity, mutual respect and compassion,” they added.
Const. Monica Rutledge, the Service’s Aboriginal Liaison Officer, said noted that Turner worked with the Indigenous communities of Toronto and assisted in building strong positive trusting relationships between the those communities and the Toronto Police Service.
“Kim was loved by many members from the Indigenous communities to the organizations she did her outreach and grassroots folk,” said Rutledge. “She was a mother, sister, auntie, friend and mentor to many. She was the foundation in the office with her strength, compassion, honesty and humility for the community and for the Service.
“Her loss has impacted the Indigenous community and the Service. The Aboriginal Peacekeeping Unit will truly miss Kim Turner and will never forget her outstanding work and the compassion she had for the community. Some of the events she planned still continues to this day. The ‘Little Chief’ will be missed, but never forgotten.”
Frances Sanderson, the Co-Chair of the Aboriginal Consultative Committee, paid tribute to Turner at a memorial service in St. Catharines on July 12.
“Kim was proud of the fact that she was a police officer, but she sometimes forgot,” Sanderson said. “She was also proud that she was Indigenous and did things out of respect. Her life was a blessing and her memory a treasure. She was loved beyond words...There is no death, just a change of worlds and she’s going to make the next world right.”
In 1992, the TPSB approved the establishment of the APU, becoming the first major urban police agency in Canada to set up a unit specifically to deal with issues faced by the Aboriginal community.
Sgt. Bob Crawford, who died 17 years ago, designed the APU logo and was the Service’s First Native Liaison Officer.
But for a two-year secondment at the Ontario Police College where she taught Cultural Diversity and Police Vehicle Operations (PVO), Turner spent her last 12 years in the APU office.
“I met Kim when she was one of my PVO instructors at OPC,” recalled Const. Tina-Louise Trepanier. “That was my favourite class because of Kim. She was always very friendly, warm and hysterically funny. Later in my career, I had the privilege of working with her and she was still just as funny and was always there for you when you needed her.”
In 2008, Turner was the recipient of the Ontario Women in Law Enforcement (OWLE) Community Service Award.
Retired Staff Inspector Nick Memme nominated her for the prestigious honour.
“Const. Turner remains Toronto Police Service’s shining light of community service to the Aboriginal community and serves as an example for others to emulate,” he wrote. “Kim’s unsurpassed enthusiasm continues to add value to the community through innovation and determination, thereby making a difference.”
Turner is survived by her children Tyler, Leigha, David and Jodi.
She was predeceased by her husband, Steve Turner, also a Toronto Police officer for 29 years.