Robert Chevalier - Toronto Police Service
Police Constable Robert Chevalier first started policing with the Windsor Auxiliary Constable program in 2002 and then hired by the Toronto Police Service in 2007. He first became a member Serving with Pride in 2008 after learning about the Organization from David Snoddy. Since that time he has been active with Toronto Police Service’s LGBT-ISN, which later became the LGBTQ-ISN. With that Internal Support Network, he held the position of Director, Treasurer, Secretary, and currently as the Co-chair. Additionally, he is a member of Pride Toronto, the Trans Community Practice (formerly Bloom Network for Trans and Gender Diverse people,) the Church Wellesley Neighbourhood Association, and Front Runners (and LGBTQ organization of long distance runners.) In the past he has also served in various capacities on many different boards, organizations, and committees. I am currently working out of the Community Partnerships and Engagement Unit as the LGBTQ2S+ Liaison Officer for the Toronto Police Service.
In his role with Serving with Pride he hopes to further increase the relationship between the Toronto Police Service Internal Support Network and Serving with Pride. He is also interested in larger projects with a provincial and national scope.
He comments, "Furthermore, when I think back to my time as an Auxiliary Constable in Windsor Ontario… although that was 16 years ago, I was hoping to see more LGBTQ activity, and membership come from that region. As a director of Serving with Pride I’m hoping to have some fulsome engagement with officers and other sworn members in that part of the province."
Noah Clouthier - Canada Border Services Agency
My name is Noah Clouthier, I currently attend the University of Toronto for Political Science and Indigenous Studies, I am also a member of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). I am a member of the 2SLGBTQ+ community. 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.
During my second year of university I worked in the Durham Regional Police Service’s Equity & Inclusion Unit as a Project Administrator. This was where I am able to see the future of policing and do my part in making a service more equitable and inclusive for members who identify as part of the 2SLGBTQ+ community. I was also a member of the Youth In Policing Senior Leadership Team, I was able to encourage and empower 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. Now I work in the Immigration Enforcement Operations Division within the CBSA.
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 individuals like myself who has always had an interest in policing but was always told I couldn’t be a member of law enforcement because of how I identify, which is not true. I want to network with police agency throughout the province to discuss how to promote a safe work environment for 2SLGBTQ+ service members who still face discrimination. I am looking forward to help SWP continue to have a positive impact for 2SLQBTQ+ police service members as well as training about inclusivity and impacts youth in the community.
Vanessa Gerasimow - Kingston Police Service
In 2015, I was hired as a sworn officer with Cobourg Police. Uprooting my entire life in Montreal to pursue a policing career in a small town in rural Ontario was a slight culture shock (to say the least). As a prior teacher with no policing knowledge or education and no family ties to the policing world, all I knew was that I wanted to help people, work hard, be challenged, and be part of a team. Additionally, as the only queer officer of a small police service, I struggled to find my place. I was first introduced to Serving with Pride in 2017 and quickly realized I was not alone. SWP made me feel like I was part of a bigger community. In 2018, I was hired as an experienced officer with the Kingston Police (KP). Prior to my hire with KP, I was working the front line in mental health response, often working with our most marginalized and vulnerable individuals. That year, I found my passion in the work. Since transferring to KP, I have been involved in our Mobile Crisis Rapid Response Team, Peer Support, and most recently, our Emerging Leadership Design and Alignment Team. Additionally, I have had the opportunity to coach the rookies on my shift; I have encouraged each and every rookie to hone in on their unique skills and abilities and find what drives and motivates them. This past year, I was also elected as the only sworn female member of the Kingston Police Association and strive to ensure our members are fairly and equitably represented. Lastly, I recently transferred into our community oriented response unit as the EDIIA officer (equity, diversity, inclusion, indigenization and accessibility). Through this role, I strive to bridge gaps in our system and support our most marginalized and vulnerable individuals in our community by leading with genuine compassion, kindness and empathy.
One memory that has stuck with me throughout my career goes back to my early 20s. While completing my undergraduate degree in Montreal, I explored pursuing a career with the Canadian Armed Forces. I was a keen young woman wanting to change the world. I remember walking in the doors of the local recruiting office and being greeted by a recruiter who abrasively stated that I didn’t really “fit the mold” of a front line combat officer, but that I should apply for the “media position” instead. That moment has carried me through my career. I don’t want to “fit the mold”. Instead, I want to challenge the systems that define us and the inequities within them. I am grateful and excited to be part of the SWP executive team and hope to continue to create safer spaces for the 2SLGBTQ+ individuals within our communities and beyond.
Heather Cannon - Peel Regional Police
I am thrilled about the prospect of working with Serving with Pride as an ally and lifelong learner. I am a 27-year veteran of Peel Regional Police, having begun my career in the mid-1990s with frontline and found great joy working in the Service's Community Support sections. For over four years, I facilitated, directed, and managed the Youth in Policing Initiative (YIPI) program. Working with teenagers was exciting, enlightening, and rewarding.
My family is blessed with strong individuals who recognize their worth and identify as allies and members of the 2S&LGBTQIA community. I've been one of Peel Police's public and media relations officer spokespersons for the last five years. I have communication experience to this position, and I look forward to working with you on what's next for Serving with Pride. The most important thing to know about me is that the space is safe while you're with me.
Heath Miller - York Regional Police Association
Sergeant Heath Miller was part of the Serving with Pride Board of Directors 2015-2016. He is currently the Treasurer for the York Regional Police Association as well as Treasurer for his condominium board, making him an ideal candidate for this position.
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.
Tyler Bell - Peel Regional Police
I am originally from Quebec, was born in Montreal and grew up in the small town of Hemmingford along the New York border. (Population 700). I was raised in a home with a blend of traditional and modern values with an emphasis on community. I knew from a very young age that I wanted to be a police officer, and I prioritized that goal growing up. Initially, the draw to policing for most young boys is the “cool factor”, going after bad guys, the lights, sirens and the uniform.
After seeing the positive role police played during some adverse times in my upbringing, I quickly learned how significant and multifaceted the job of a police officer is in our society.
I knew I was gay since about the age of 11 and was scared to death of that reality. It wasn’t the daunting process of self-acceptance or the eventual coming out that scared me; it was having to remain closeted because I dreamed of being a police officer. While it was only 20 years ago, even then, there was a stigma surrounding law enforcement. I was sure that it wasn’t acceptable to be a cop if you were gay. When I was 16, I recall seeing officers on TV marching in the Toronto Pride parade, some holding hands with their partners. This was a significant moment in my life because it meant I didn’t have to hide who I was to accomplish my goals.
After three years of secondary education, I was hired and sworn in as a Constable with the Peel Regional Police in 2015. During my hiring process, I was told that I was the first openly gay male applicant they’ve seen go through the process “out”. I quickly realized that those officers I saw marching so proudly at pride those years prior must’ve overcome some tremendous obstacles.
I’ve spent most of my short career in uniform and have been blessed with several opportunities, including field training officer, mobile crisis rapid response, divisional mobilization and acting supervisor, and most recently, I’ve been assigned to our public and media relations unit. During my time at Peel, I have often been asked to speak of my experience as an openly gay cop, both internally and externally. While my experiences have been overwhelmingly good, there still is a stigma today, and I’m committed to breaking down barriers like so many did before me.
My desire to join the Serving With Pride board is two-fold. It comes from my desire to see all of my fellow 2SLGBTQ+ officers in a space where they can be their whole authentic selves; and my desire to ensure all members of our community have trust in the uniform we so proudly wear.
Henry Dyck - Toronto Police Service
Sergeant Henry Dyck has been with the Toronto Police Service since 2005.
Prior to becoming a police officer he did quite a lot of volunteer work within the LGBTQ2S+ community. In Kingston, Ontario he hosted a Queer Radio show and had notable interviews with such individuals as then Mayor Barbara Hall, and MCC Minister Brent Hawkes. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the Kingston Lesbian and Gay Association and a member of the Lesbian and Gay Issues Committee for Queen’s University. He was a member of the committee that brought the AIDS quilt and Janet Connors to Kingston to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS. He also volunteered at the Kingston AIDS Project and led an almost singular campaign against the Red Cross at Queen’s University after inappropriate signage disparaging gay students was used.
In Toronto, Sgt. Dyck is a former President of the Board of Directors of the Pride and Remembrance Run. During his time there hundreds of thousands of dollars were raised for local LGBTQ2S+ specific charities utilizing a formal beneficiary application process. It was also at this time that he first started to develop relationships with the management of other not for profit agencies in Toronto. He is currently a member in good standing with Pride Toronto, the Church-Wellesley Neighbourhood Association, and holds a life membership with the Pride and Remembrance Run. He has the experience of having worked on National campaigns with organizations like EGALE, to smaller but no less important issues like helping our community deal with overly zealous and hateful fundamentalist preachers. He was the inaugural recipient of the Toronto Police Service’s Mental Health Award, and has received a number of external awards including a Public Hero Award, as well as SWP’s Visibility Award.
During his time with the Toronto Police he has had some challenging and equally rewarding connections to our community. Some of those have been:
Investigating a Missing Person report that led to the development of “Project Prism” and subsequent work to assist with the arrest and conviction of Bruce McArthur.
worked very hard, and was finally successful in getting the Neighbourhood Officer program expanded to cover the Church-Wellesley community, a program he still supervises.
Fought to become one of, if not the first, police stations in Canada to fly the Trans Pride flag during Trans Day of Remembrance and host a yearly event around it.
Wrote the report for the Toronto Police Service Board requesting permission for its officers to wear Pride epaulettes, and Pride and Trans Pride pins.
Have represented the Toronto Police Service formally as an LGBTQ2S+ representative at a host of events including Orlando Pride, Elliot Lake Pride, and as a delegate at the 1st World LGBTQ Conference for Justice Professionals in Amsterdam.
Twice been the Co-chair of the Toronto Police Service’s LGBTQ-Internal Support Network. Which includes the following notable achievements:
Commencement of a large annual charitable event- The First Responder PRIDE party.
Having the then first Lesbian Premier of Ontario speak to ISN.
Getting permission for the TPS to march in PRIDE NYC.
Hosting an IDAHOT event featuring Trans police officers from Ottawa and New York as speakers.
Having the Chief of the Orlando PD + its LGBT Liaison officer flown to Toronto to speak to the ISN about the Pulse Nightclub shooting.