Diversity makes Canada, the RCMP stronger

Supt. Shahin Mehdizadeh (second from right), attending a Punjab Day event at the Forks in Winnipeg, says diversity has to be embraced and celebrated, not just tolerated. Credit: RCMP

I am an Iranian-born Canadian and have been a member of the RCMP for 28 years. When I joined the force, the environment was not what we enjoy today.

The first thing I learned was that I had to prove myself — same as other members, but I had to work harder to overcome biases and gain people's respect and trust.

Over the years, my language skills and understanding of different cultures have enabled me to contribute to major national and international investigations. I have been able to help RCMP units and police agencies across Canada, the U.S. and the U.K.

Since assisting the Kingston Police with the Shafia case (where four women were killed by their family), I have become very engaged in the area of honour-based violence and forced marriages.

This topic is becoming a key issue as our immigrant population continues to grow. Recognizing this, I helped develop an online training module for employees on the topic.

On a personal note, my life was a roller coaster until we arrived in Canada. I owe any success I enjoy to the fact that when we needed a place to call home, Canada opened its doors and provided us with the opportunity.

This is the case for everyone who comes to this country. As I tell new immigrants in different venues, what people do with that opportunity is in their hands.

What are only dreams and hopes in another country can be translated into achievable goals in Canada, because here, nothing is impossible.

Diversity is a way of life here and is what makes Canada so strong. Same goes for any organization. It is a concept that has to be embraced and celebrated — not just tolerated. Celebrating and managing diversity in our organization will translate into a better understanding and respect for it and will enable us to provide a higher level of service to our diverse communities.

— Supt. Shahin Mehdizadeh, D Division

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