Tamara Lopez - Canada Border Services Agency
Tamara was recently appointed as Co-chair 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.
Stephen Reid is the former Executive Director for the Police Association of Ontario (PAO) and was responsible for leading the implementation of an ambitious government relations and public engagement strategy that promoted 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 was the key focus of his through several pieces of legislation such as the Comprehensive Police Services Act (COPS Act) and PTSD/presumptive coverage (Bill 163). He was also actively involved in advocating for programs and services that continued to support all front-line police services personnel including mental health and wellness and the use of new technologies to name a few.
One of the most successful programs Stephen implemented was the PAO Police Hero of the Year program that began in 2016. Designed to encourage the public to recognize sworn and civilian heroes that have made a difference for Ontarians and their communities, the campaign has steadily increased in popularity and volume of nominations year-over-year. 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 is currently focussed on a PhD studying how negative media stories in Canada and throughout the world is impacting 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.
Stephen has also been actively engaged in improving EDI and anti-racism awareness and action through the launch of a diversity and inclusion PAO speaker series involving three webinars for members across Ontario focused on LGBTQ2SA+, BPOC and Indigenous community relationships with policing. In his role within the SWP, he is also actively involved on the OACP EDI and anti-racism committee as well participating in panel discussions with organizations such as the Ontario Association of Police Services Board.
Stephen and his partner Matt live in downtown Toronto a few blocks from the Church Wellesley neighbourhood.
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.
Fiona Campbell - Durham Regional Police Service
I was raised by a loving and supportive blended family. I spent a good portion of my childhood in Scarborough, Ontario until 1993 when my parents relocated our family to the North West Territories for a teaching employment opportunity. As a young child living in the North West Territories, I was exposed to a new and distinct cultural setting in which I learned the language, customs, and traditions of the Inuit people. In the consecutive year, we relocated to the Yukon where I furthered my knowledge of Northern Canada as well as the history of Alaska. My family returned to Pickering in 1995 and we have resided in the Greater Toronto Area ever since.
My travelling experience has taught me the value of diversity and has enabled me to develop my relationship-making abilities, all of which have proved useful in areas of work, school and volunteering. I have always held a keen interest for law enforcement. My inspiration for the profession came at a young age as my Godmother was an officer with the RCMP. Her career took her on a unique path and this exposure to a strong female in the policing community inspired me to follow a similar career path.
I came out to my parents as a lesbian when I was seventeen years old. This was made easier for me as my brother came out as gay the year before. I was so fortunate to have parents who embraced our path and supported us in our efforts to discover our authentic truths. I have been with my wife for twelve years and have two beautiful daughters with her.
I began my policing career with the Toronto Police Service in August 2009. I was deployed as a constable to 42 division where I spent the majority of my career with TPS. I served as a uniform police constable in the Primary Response Unit as well as the Community Response Unit. In January 2016 I was seconded to the Integrated Guns and Gangs Task Force for a major project directed at dismantling a very prominent and violent gang. The project resulted in a successful takedown and the efforts were recognized by the Toronto Police Services Board with a teamwork commendation award.
In 2018 I applied to the Durham Regional Police Service and was offered a lateral position as a police constable within the service. My wife and I both moved to Durham and began a new chapter of our policing careers. The move to DRPS proved to be the most significant in defining my true passion within the policing world. I recognized a huge disparity in the E&I opportunities available with DRPS and have worked tirelessly at building relationships with internal and external partners to bring opportunity and change. I have taken a leadership role within West Division as the Community E&I Liaison and work with service members and the community to make stronger connections. I truly believe that investing in the community is the new path of policing. In the face of the pandemic, I developed a "Serving with Pride" video series highlighting the diverse and proud members of the service who identify a 2SLGBTQ+. I have also partnered with TPS to create and bring 2SLGBTQ+ training to DRPS to ensure understanding and accountability for our community.
Throughout my policing career as well as my personal life I have demonstrated my ability to work as an individual as well as part of a team. I have come to celebrate diversity and recognize the importance of an empathetic communicator. I strive to strengthen the ties between the community and law enforcement and promote a safe environment for the community to approach the police to communicate their needs.
My desire to become part of the Serving with Pride team stems from my desire to see positive and long lasting change. I want to connect with members from other services, with other experiences and listen to their challenges and strengths. I am so happy to be part of an organization focused on bringing understanding, support and accountability to the forefront and provide a safe environment for all members of our community. I believe that my presence on the board will bring a diverse perspective and drive.
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.
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."
Matthew Cudahy - Ministry of the Solicitor General
I have served for 22 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.
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.
Noah Clouthier - Student, University of Toronto
My name is Noah Clouthier, I am 19 years old and I currently attend the University of Toronto for Political Science and Indigenous Studies. I am a member of the 2SLGBTQ+ 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.
During my second year of university I worked in the Durham Regional Police Service’s Equity & Inclusion Unit as the Student 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 LGBTQ+ 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.
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, they were 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 with my self identity until 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, 8 years after coming out the first time and 4.5 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.