Joanna Styrczula - Peel Regional Police Service
Joanna been employed with Peel Regional Police since 2009, and has worked in numerous bureaus over the past 12 years. Joanna is currently assigned to the Equity and Inclusion bureau (EIB), but has for several years been supporting and working closely with EIB in an effort to develop the organizations capacity and understanding of 2SLGBTQ+ issues. Joanna also began her career with the Ministry of Correctional Services in 2003 until 2009. In her past position as a School Resource officer, Joanna has heard from the diverse voices of students and staff who run Gay-Straight Alliances in schools within the Region of Peel, and leverages their ideas to better understand the needs and interests of 2SLGBTQ+ youth. In addition, Joanna has worked with Safe City Mississauga where she aided in a review of hetero-normative presentations on intimate partner violence in order to facilitate more inclusive materials on 2SLGBTQ relationships for high school students. Joanna is also a Co-Chair on the Peel Regional Police Chief’s 2SLGBTQ+ Advisory Committee, where she has used this platform to build relationships between police and 2SLGBTQ+ community members and agencies.
She also sits on the Peel Regional Police Diversity and Inclusion Committee whose mission is to foster trust and promote equity, diversity and inclusion throughout all areas of the organization.
Joanna created and is a Co-Chair of an 2SLGBTQ+ Internal Support Network (PRP PRIDE ISN) for Peel Regional Police. The ISN promotes visibility, and develops mandates, strategies and programs that are aimed at promoting diversity and inclusivity. Through this work, she hopes to transform societal and systemic barriers and present an affirmative view of those who identify as 2SLGBTQ.
Joanna is enthusiastic about her involvement with Serving with Pride and is driven to use this role to bring awareness, form partnerships, and promote positive change in the community.
Stephen Reid - Police Association Ontario
Stephen Reid is the Executive Director for the Police Association of Ontario (PAO), a position which he started in May 2015. As the operational head of the organization, Stephen has been leading the implementation of an ambitious government relations and public engagement strategy that has been promoting the role of all police services professionals as an integral and important part of public safety in the province.
Building relationships with the government and opposition parties in the Ontario legislature has been a primary focus of the PAO leading up to the implementation of the new Comprehensive Police Services Act (COPS Act). The PAO is actively involved in advocating for programs and services that continue to support all front-line police services personnel covering mental health and wellness, vaccinations, and new technologies to name a few.
One of the most successful programs Stephen has been involved in has been the launch of the PAO Police Hero of the Year program that began in 2016. The campaign is designed to have the public nominate the sworn and civilian heroes that have made a difference in their lives and communities. Since the program has been in existence, we have received over 1,000 nominations in total from citizens that want their heroes to be recognized.
Stephen has also been actively involved in communication strategies over the past six years, responding to any number of issues and crisis events involving its membership. As he continues with his PhD studying how negative media stories in Canada and throughout the world is affecting police service personnel self-legitimacy, Stephen continues to be a staunch believer in being an active participant in any conversations about policing as a public service.
Recently, Stephen began a diversity and inclusion speaker series involving three webinars for members across Ontario focused on LGBTQ2SA+, BPOC and Indigenous community relationships with policing. He has been tasked with mapping out a strategy of implementing actionable steps towards bridging the gaps in the relationships.
Stephen and his partner Matt live in downtown Toronto a few blocks from the Church Wellesley neighbourhood.
Jean Turner - Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Jean Turner began her career as a Civilian Member for the RCMP in 2002 working as a dispatcher in the Operational Communications Centre (OCC). She was promoted to the position of Communications Specialist, RCMP Communications & Media Relations in 2006 and promoted again in 2018 in the role that she occupies today, Senior Communications Advisor and Social Media Manager.
In her current role, Jean develops and executes stakeholder communications strategies and products for O Division (Ontario) internal and external communications. She provides expert communications advice, research, analysis, planning and oversight, to the Commanding Officer and Executive on high profile communications trends and issues. She also provides subject matter expertise with respect to Division media relations, social media, web presence and creative services.
In 2015 she played an instrumental role in rejuvenating SWP, and through her vision, leadership, and tireless effort, SWP is now known nationally as a vital and respected organization. She has sat on the Board of Directors since that time in various capacities including, Co-chair and in her current role in Strategic Planning & Communications.
She has sat on many EDI committees and Boards within the RCMP and continues to be actively involved as their 2SLGBTQ+ Employee Network lead and other initiatives to advance EDI and healthy workplace goals.
Her work in Equity, Diversity and Inclusion both within the RCMP and in the greater community earned her the 2020 Ontario Women in Law Enforcement Civilian Award of Achievement.
She is proud to be one of the co-producers of the comingoutcops documentary film that introduces its audience to a group of 2SLGBTQ+ law enforcement professionals from Ontario. The documentary unpacks the multiple, dynamic, and often conflicting “coming out” processes these sworn professionals navigate in their personal and professional lives and delves into the current relationship between the 2SLGBTQ+ and other vulnerable or marginalized communities.
In addition, she produced a difficult video of her own personal story for use by 2SLGBTQ+ youth support groups and has attended discussion groups with young people when the video was aired. Her courage in doing this video to support vulnerable youth in our communities is an example of her commitment to improving the experience of the next generation through education and awareness.
Tamara Lopez - Canada Border Services Agency
Tamara was recently appointed as a director for Serving With Pride and couldn’t be more elated to begin her role further advancing the LGBTQ2 Community in the world of law enforcement.
Tamara graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Honours Degree with a major in Psychology and minor in Sexuality Studies from the University of Windsor. During her time in Windsor, Tamara became heavily involved in student governance and student politics by being a board member on the University of Windsor Student Alliance, where one of their roles was to oversee the various student clubs on campus. Tamara noticed that there was not a LGBTQ2 club on campus nor a designated “safe space”. Therefore, Tamara, along with a faculty member and another student put in a proposal to create the group “Out on Campus” as well as a safe space for students. Tamara was also able to put in a proposal to receive funding to send several students to the largest mid-western LGBTQ2 Conference held at Ohio State University in 2003 as well as host an event on campus for National Coming Out Day. Tamara has won numerous awards from the university for her advocacy including Volunteer of the Year and Student of the Year Awards. Tamara’s legacy at the University of Windsor is that both Out on Campus and the safe space still exists to this day.
She began her career with the CBSA in 2005, having worked as a student for one summer in 2003. During her time with the CBSA, Tamara has worn many hats including Facilitator at the National Customs College in Quebec, line officer, trainer – both in-house and with the government of Canada’s Joint Learning Program. Tamara has also had the opportunity to be a part-time professor at both Sheridan and Humber College teaching in the Police Foundations Program. In 2017, the CBSA announced that it created its first LGBTQ2 Committee and Tamara, being passionate about further advancing all identities, quickly joined the committee and is on track for training to become a Positive Space Ambassador, where she will be able to train others on the importance of being inclusive.
Tamara also hosts a video segment for the CBSA called “Carpool Conversations” with her two most recent episodes focusing on diversity and inclusion. Tamara has also been a member of the CBSA’s Committee for Diversity and Inclusion as well as Women’s Advisory Committee and has helped plan, promote and educate others on the topic of diversity and LGBTQ rights and history. The CBSA has utilized Tamara for media purposes to promote International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Bi-phobia and will be featured in their upcoming recruitment campaign showcasing the CBSA’s diverse work force.
She was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2013 for her commitment to activism both inside and outside of work.
Outside of work, Tamara is very active having recently retired from the University of Windsor’s Alumni Association Board or Directors after a 6-year term; had her own television program showcasing the community and hosting such events as the Santa Claus Parade each year. She is also the host of Women As Career Coaches put on yearly by the Halton Industry Education Council which is attended by 700 women. Tamara is also a motivational speaker having spoken at numerous high schools in the Halton Region about her career and the different roles that she has had. Tamara graciously accepts any opportunity where she can make a difference, and she hopes to do just that during her time on Serving With Pride.
Tijana Lakovic - Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services
Tijana Lakovic is a Sergeant with the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services who believes in an anti-oppressive practice and client-centred care.
Tijana currently holds a Diploma in Police Foundations, a double Major Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and Psychology and a Masters of Social Work. As a member of the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services she is currently the member of the tactical unit- Institution Crisis Intervention Team, the Critical Incident Stress Management Team, a Women in Corrections committee member and a Positive Space Champion.
Tijana is committed to advocating on behalf of the LGBTQ community and furthering education within law enforcement agencies.
Benjamin Cruickshank - Ontario Provincial Police
After attending the Ontario Police College and the Provincial Police Academy, Ben started his career with the OPP at the Caledon Detachment. He transferred to the South Wellington Detachment in order to be closer to his husband and home in the Kitchener-Waterloo area.
Prior to becoming a police officer, Ben studied in the registered nursing program, was a life and critical illness underwriter, an Executive Member of the Canadian Institute of Underwriters and President of the Southwestern Ontario Underwriters Association.
Ben has also dedicated much of his time as a Canadian Forces Reserve Officer, working in the CIC, earning the rank of Major. Through this length of service Ben earned his Canadian Forces Decoration. In 2012 Ben was awarded the Queens Diamond Jubilee medal recognizing his time and dedication to Canadian youth.
Ben's personal motto is: "ducere exemplo" (Lead By Example). This is something that he strives to live by in his professional and personal life. Being open and honest about his sexual orientation at work is important for him and he has been supported by his colleagues and service. Ben has been partnered with his husband for nine years, and married for three.
Patty Retsinas - Toronto Police Service (Retired)
A 30-year veteran of, the Toronto Police Service, Patty recently retired as a Police Officer. Patty has vast experience policing one of the most diverse cities in the World with 140 official and unique neighborhoods. She spent considerable time in the core of the city that attracts millions of visitors each year from all over the world. The area also encompasses what is known as the Church and Wellesley community also known as the "Gay Village”.
Working closely with StreetArt Toronto, a street artist, and with community consultation, Patty was the lead for creating a community mural in the Village. The mural is located on the wall of 425 Church Street that tells a story and beautifies the neighborhood. The mural, “It’s in Our Hands,” represents the service’s “past, present and future” relationship with the city’s LGBTQ2S+ communities. Components of that relationship is represented in the mural.
Patty served 5 years as the Co-chair of the Toronto Police Service LGBTQ Internal Support Network. Living through many changes within a hyper-masculine, par military organization, Patty wanted to support her peers and advocate for LGBTQ equality in the workplace. During her tenure as co-chair she spearheaded several initiatives, events and fundraisers that supported her colleagues and the community. Events such as the First Responders Pride Party raised over $50,000 that was donated back into the LGBTQ community, including organizations that support first responders.
The expulsion of Toronto Police from the Toronto Pride Parade in 2016 was the catalyst for Patty to co-produce a documentary that focuses on humanizing LGBTQ2S+ members in Law Enforcement. Teaming up with S/Sgt Sandra Sparling, Ottawa Police, Jean Turner, Serving with Pride and D.F.F Productions the documentary called, Comingoutcops, is expected to premier in 2021.
A life time resident of Toronto and employee, Patty developed an intimate knowledge and deep love for the City and for the community. She continues to keep her head in the game and champion for LGBTQ2S+ equality, to improve and build public trust, foster new relationships and build bridges.
Matthew Cudahy - Ministry of the Solicitor General
I have served for 21 years as a Correctional Officer and Sergeant, at 5 different institutions across Ontario, from the old Toronto (Don) Jail to my current assignment at Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay. Although I am originally from Toronto I have lived all over the province and currently reside in Peterborough, which has a very active Pride community for such a small city.
I've seen a lot of changes in the service over the years and various institutions I've worked and I believe I bring a positive, proactive and inclusive approach to my role as a Sergeant in Correctional Services. I am an executive committee member with Pride in Corrections (PinC) which is our internal LGBTQ2+ support network, and a Positive Space Champion.
My office and workspace is known to be a safe and inclusive space for all staff. As policies adjust to become more inclusive, both for our staff and for the inmates within our facilities, I have found all levels of administration struggling to apply those policies within the workplace in a relevant manner. As both a supervisor and a member of the LGBTQ2+ community I have been able to not only advise administration on the application of these policies but also advocate and enforce their application when necessary.
We have come a long way since I started in the jails in 1999, but there is still work for us to do and I believe education is the answer. That's why I believe in Serving With Pride, an independent organization whose goal is both to advocate for inclusivity within our workspaces and within the communities we serve, and to provide relevant LGBTQ2+ education to our peers. I am both pleased and honoured to be sitting as a Director on the SWP Board.
Carmen Wong - Toronto Police Service
Carmen Wong began her career with the Toronto Police Service in 2005, and is currently the new LGBTQ2S Liaison officer for the Toronto Police Service. Being new to the role, she has committed herself to learning about the various communities and also making new connections with members of the communities, LGBTQ2S agencies and liaison officers from various jurisdictions.
She is currently in the initial phase of research, design, and strategic planning for how the liaison position will evolve. She intends for it to encompass the development and delivery of training material, providing and encouraging peer support for internal members, expanding the position from a sole officer to a broader team, strengthening the relationships that her police service has with diverse communities, increased advocacy and assisting with cultural change within the organization. She feels these objectives are well aligned with the work that Serving With Pride does and that it would provide value to the organization as she continues to build community relationships.
Her lived experience as refugee who grew up abroad, a racialized immigrant, and an out queer woman who has fifteen years of policing experience in Canada’s largest city brings a unique lens to her work in strengthening relationships with those in the LGBTQ2S communities who feel most marginalized and underrepresented.
She is a strong believer in working collaboratively, learning from others, and sharing information, the reciprocity of the knowledge and networks shared between her role as a liaison officer, and Serving with Pride will be extremely beneficial to advance the objective of advocating for LGBTQ2S representation and visibility.
Noah Clouthier - Student, University of Toronto
My name is Noah Clouthier, I am 18 years old and I currently attend the University of Toronto for social science. I am a member of the LGBTQ+ community and I also have the dream of becoming a law enforcement officer in the future. I love being an active member in the community, I feel that it is important to build up my community so that it can be a more inclusive place for the next generation.
I currently work in Durham Regional Police’s Equity & Inclusion Unit as the Student Project Administrator. Every day I am able to see the future of policing, I am able to do my part in making a service more equitable and inclusive for members who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community. As a Youth In Policing Team Leader, I was able to encourage and impower members of my team to always be their authentic selves because that is diversity. Diversity is being able to be your authentic self without the fear of being judged or excluded.
I am so happy to be able to share my insight with Serving with Pride and help to reach more youth throughout Ontario. I know this organization can provide so much support to youth like myself who has always had an interest in policing but always told I couldn’t be a police officer due to my sexuality, which is not true. I want to network with police agency throughout the province to discuss how to promote a safe work environment for LGBTQ+ service members who still face discrimination. I am looking forward to help SWP continue to have a positive impact for LQBTQ+ police service members as well as training about inclusivity and impacts youth in the community. Let's keep changing policing, together!
Jesse Castle - Student, Conestoga College
Growing up, if there were two things missing in my hometown community of ~40,000 people, it was visible 2SLGBTQ+ individuals and leadership, as well as resources for this marginalized group of people. Coming out was terrifying, and not knowing what was going on due to lack of education within the school systems made things that much more difficult. I struggled severely with my mental health, ultimately playing with the idea of suicide until I attempted in 2014. This was also the year I finally “came out” as a lesbian, only to discover my true identity in the Fall of 2017, which would be the greatest turning point in my life when I finally transitioned from female to male and embraced my cultural identity as Two-Spirit. In hindsight, I firmly believe I would not have made many of the mistakes I did in my childhood and adolescence should I have had one 2SLGBTQ+ role model visible in the community. Because I made those mistakes and nobody else was in the spotlight, ready to be criticized on all fronts, I decided to step into the proverbial ring for a cause much greater than myself. This move caused much heartache due to callous words spoken by cruel teens, but also allowed a platform for other struggling individuals to stand upon. And now, 7 years after coming out the first time and 3.5 years after coming out the final time, I stand a changed man with an indomitable spirit for the well-being of those around me.
I firmly believe in Serving With Pride’s leadership and direction, and I believe that my unique perspective from years lived both as a female and male will provide the Board with insight that may be used in championing 2SLGBTQ+ rights. I am also hoping to inspire those around me from historically challenged backgrounds to rise up, get involved, make a change from the inside-out.
I firmly believe that transparency as well as education and visibility will be catalysts for improving trust between the 2SLGBTQ+ community and police. The only way that police organizations can attain this is by having visible representatives within individual police services who can liaise with their communities in order to address unique community needs and social determinants of health that may play an impact in law enforcement personnel’s approach to solving problems.
I believe that my background in Addictions & Mental Health, my resourcefulness with regards to community resources and partnerships, as well as my interest in ethics and philosophy will help me succeed in my eventual career as a police officer. Moreover, I want to thank the past and present Board of Directors, as they have paved the way for me to have the opportunity that I do.
I believe as a Youth Director, I will be guided and mentored while also being able to help with understanding the generation gap between one group to the next.