Thirteen Yukoners, one program and a four legged friend were recognized for their efforts to prevent crime and foster community safety at the seventh annual Minister of Justice Community Safety Awards on Wednesday, May 29.
The 2019 Community Safety Award recipients are:
- Whitehorse Correctional Centre Gardening Program (Ingrid Wilcox, Craig Cameron, John Gullison) – Exceptional Program Award;
- Constable Francis Caron – First Responder Award;
- Claire Desmarais – Volunteer Award;
- Darlene Hutton – Volunteer Award;
- Teslin RCMP detachment (Corporal Jeff Myke, Constable Jason Pradolini, Constable Travis Draper) – Yukon Policing Award;
- Constable Amy Handrahan – Yukon Policing Award;
- Police Service Dog Crash – Yukon Policing Award;
- Constable Candice MacEachen – Mentor for Yukon Youth Award;
- Charlotte Hrenchuk – Services to Victims Award; and
- James Smarch – Lifetime Contribution to Community Safety Award.
The award recipients are recognized for their innovative community safety initiatives including restorative justice; research and activism; youth outreach and support; excellence in emergency and first response; volunteerism; and community policing.
The recipients of this year's Community Safety Awards have made a positive difference in the lives of Yukoners and we are honoured to acknowledge their positive impact on the safety and well-being of our communities. Our territory is fortunate to have so many individuals with a strong sense of commitment to their communities who are making Yukon a safer place to live every day.
Minister of Justice Tracy-Anne McPhee
The Community Safety Awards were established in 2012 in response to a recommendation from the 2010 Sharing Common Ground report, which highlighted a need to recognize the contributions of Yukoners who promote community safety.
The Community Safety Awards Nominating Committee reviews all nominations and provides recommendations to the Minister of Justice.
The committee comprises two representatives from the Yukon Police Council, two representatives from the Department of Justice, and a representative from RCMP “M” Division.
Recognizing Impaired Driving Enforcement (RIDE) Awards were also presented to eight Yukon RCMP members by President of the Whitehorse Chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Jacquie Van Marck.
2019 Community Safety Awards Recipients
Whitehorse Correctional Centre Gardening Program (Ingrid Wilcox, Craig Cameron, John Gullison) – Exceptional Program Award
Led by Ingrid Wilcox, the Gardening Program at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre is promoting community safety and restorative justice through gardening. Horticulture therapy works as a rehabilitation activity that is utilized to improve the quality of life of clients. It improves attention, lessens stress and teaches nurturing skills, while creating a safe space for healing. By donating the majority of fruits and vegetables to the Whitehorse Food Bank the gardening program also promotes community spirit through charitable contributions. Correctional officers and inmates working together to tend to a garden have always demonstrated leadership qualities, empathy and a sense of community connection.
Constable Francis Caron – First Responder Award
On the morning of July 28, 2018, Whitehorse RCMP responded to a report that two females were in distress in the water near the Miles Canyon footbridge. Constable Caron attended the location where he was able to locate the first woman who was standing safely on a rock. He then safely approached a cliff to get closer to the other woman who was in the water. Constable Caron threw his rescue device in her direction. However, due to the distressed person’s fatigue, three attempts were needed before she could successfully grab the rescue device. Constable Caron sent his Personal Flotation Device to her and waited for the RCMP boat that was en route to the scene. Once secured in the boat the individual was returned to safety where EMS took her into care. If it were not for the quick response and guidance by Constable Caron the outcome would undoubtedly have been much different.
Claire Desmarais – Volunteer Award
Ms. Desmarais has been a volunteer with the Mount Lorne Volunteer Fire Department since just after it was established in 1996. Throughout her years of service, which continue to this day, she has reached the highest level of training available within the Yukon Fire Service. She has subsequently volunteered as a training evaluator and has taught countless recruits with her characteristic humility and grace. Her style and demeanor in training and at real emergency scenes model what the Mount Lorne Volunteer Fire Department strives to have in all its first responders. Ms. Desmarais is said to be the epitome of a team player. She inspires individuals, young and old, to test their own limits, try new things, and to prove to themselves that they can achieve anything. For example, Ms. Desmarais has been an instructor for four years now and is part of the planning team for the Fire Marshal’s Office Special Operations project “Ember Fire Academy” that introduces female civilians to the fire service.
Darlene Hutton – Volunteer Award
Ms. Hutton, born and raised in Mayo, has provided an exceptional level of professionalism, leadership and innovation in her work and volunteer life. She has been involved in municipal, territorial and federal elections activities as poll clerk and deputy returning officer, and was chief electoral officer for the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyak Dun in 2009. She is also very active in sports and she represented Yukon at the Canadian Mixed curling championship in 2012. She also coaches and is the main organizer of the Annual Irene Hutton Memorial curling bonspiel. Besides her numerous activities, Ms. Hutton has also shown outstanding commitment as a first responder. She has been a volunteer on the Mayo ambulance group for many years and has been the supervisor since 2012. She schedules Mayo’s ambulance attendants to ensure there is 24/7 coverage, and she is known to be a very valuable asset to the community of Mayo.
Teslin RCMP detachment (Corporal Jeff Myke, Constable Jason Pradolini, Constable Travis Draper) – Yukon Policing Award
All three members of the detachment focus much of their community engagement on the community’s youth. This approach gives children and youth the opportunity to see RCMP members as more than just officers who represent the law, but as people like them who care about the citizens in the community in which they serve. Corporal Myke and Constables Draper and Pradolini play active roles with the afternoon youth club, organizing bike rodeos to emphasize safety. They wake up early in the morning to be involved in the "Food for Learning" breakfast program. They deliver a "Top Cop" reading program to the kindergartners, and give presentations to the TTC Youth Council. They are involved in the Terry Fox Run and they coach and mentor youth volleyball and hockey on a weekly basis. They are also actively involved in numerous other projects and events – the list truly goes on! Overall, the detachment prioritizes relationship building over an enforcement-only approach, and is described as a visible, positive presence in the community. As a result, the residents of Teslin feel much safer in their community.
Constable Amy Handrahan – Yukon Policing Award
Constable Handrahan has been part of the community of Watson Lake for three years and has shown her desire to engage by volunteering in many aspects. Through these volunteer efforts, she has increased respect and trust between the RCMP and the citizens of Watson Lake. She regularly attends community events, where she proudly wears her dress red serge uniform, on or off duty. She is involved in many youth organizations, volunteering her time as a board member, coach, mentor and organizer. She also participates in various adult activities, is involved with numerous boards, organizes events, raises funds and, of course, joins in the fun through her own participation! As the liaison officer for the local elementary school, she regularly visits the school, both on and off duty, running formal programs and taking part in spontaneous informal activities. Constable Handrahan has also been very active with the high school students.
Police Service Dog Crash – Yukon Policing Award
Crash has just retired from his role as the RCMP police service dog based in the Yukon. Supported by his handler, Corporal Cam Long, Crash has been helping people and defending the law in our communities for about six years. One of the first news stories dates back to December 2013, when Crash helped to locate a missing 78-year-old Whitehorse man lying in two feet of snow. Crash has also participated in training sessions for Yukon Search and Rescue volunteers and has many other skills. In addition to finding missing persons he has been called out to assist at standoffs and has offered his support at scenes where gunshots had been fired and where unidentified human remains have been found. Crash has provided explosive detection detail during dignitary visits and has helped with presentations to students at Yukon schools. One of Crash's last calls was to successfully locate a 65-year-old who became lost in the Mt. Sima area last November. Ever gregarious and always keeping Corporal Long on his toes, Crash has been an asset to Search and Rescue in Yukon. He will be a tough act to follow when it comes to community safety.
Constable Candice MacEachen – Mentor for Yukon Youth Award
Constable MacEachen is a member of Whitehorse RCMP, working in frontline policing. She is a dedicated police officer with a strong interest in youth development. As a high-level women’s hockey player prior to and after joining the RCMP, Constable MacEachen took a natural affinity to passing on her skills and knowledge. She is presently the head coach of the girls’ hockey team in Whitehorse and she devotes a large portion of her off-duty time scheduling training, practices and activities for the teams. She fosters an environment in which the youth feel they all have something to contribute to their group, not focussing on winning, but on making themselves better and working as a team. She believes these life lessons are critical to the development of essential character traits such as responsibility and resiliency. In both her professional and volunteer duties, Constable MacEachen carries herself with accountability, commitment and compassion, always showing the highest respect for others. Her dedication to bettering herself extends to her personal development to be a better coach and she has taken a number of courses in coaching, personal training, child protection and mental health.
Charlotte Hrenchuk – Services to Victims Award
Ms. Hrenchuk is a strong activist working to address gender inequality issues in Yukon and across the north. Since the early 1980s, she has fought for the inclusion of the voices and perspectives of northern women and girls at the national level. Her research and activism has focused on a myriad of issues related to women and girls in the north including: health, poverty, violence against women and legal system involvement. As the former Coordinator Yukon Status of Women Council, her work has brought awareness to issues for women that are too often ignored. For example, Ms. Hrenchuk’s research and publications include the first study of women’s homelessness in the northern territories. Later on, she developed the Court Watch Action research program and, most recently, Ms. Hrenchuk examined sex work and human trafficking of women and girls in the Yukon context. This research meant connecting with people working in the sex trade and identifying and developing training for service providers to better respond to the realities facing these individuals. Ms. Hrenchuk is a champion of the needs of marginalized women and a well-deserving recipient of this award.
James Smarch – Lifetime Contribution to Community Safety Award;
Mr. Smarch is the Chief of the Teslin Fire Department. He has been a member of the Department for close to 20 years and his consistent presence and corporate knowledge is invaluable. After taking over as Fire Chief six years ago, he asked the fire department to perform at a higher standard than previously expected. He encourages members to continue with training and sets an example by continually participating in his own professional development. As a result, most of the members have attained basic certification and are working towards more advanced accreditation. He also employs several unique and creative recruiting strategies for the department, leading to a change in the public perception of what it means to be a firefighter in Teslin, and increasing the number of firefighters in the volunteer crew. He is also committed to the Village Council and the Fire Marshal's Office and has strengthened communication to ensure better training, support and equipment upgrades. He is proactive in preventing fires, contributing to awareness programs for the Teslin community and in the school. He also makes recommendations to both Village of Teslin and Teslin Tlingit Council on how to make the community a safer place for its residents.