Commissioner Lucki, Honoured guests, Employees, Veterans, Friends and Family.
I'd like to acknowledge that we are gathered on Treaty 4 Territory, homeland of the Métis.
I welcome you all on this very special day.
Thank you all for being here today, and thank you to Assistant Commissioner Jasmin Breton, as well as his team at Depot Division, for their help in planning this event.
I am extremely humbled and honoured to be here today, in this historic Drill Hall, to take command of F Division and RCMP policing in the Province of Saskatchewan. To be appointed Commanding Officer of the third largest contract Division in the country is not something I ever dreamed of when I marched in this same Drill Hall for our troop graduation ceremony. In fact, on that day in August, I was counting my lucky blessings to have gotten through Depot, given that I could not swim when I arrived and still could not march when I left. I have had a fantastic career and want to thank Commissioner Lucki, The Government of Saskatchewan, and the Senior Executive Committee for having the confidence in me to select me to be Commanding Officer of a Division.
I am very proud to be your new Commanding Officer. Rest assured that I will maintain the tradition of excellence for which RCMP "F" Division is already known for.
Getting to this stage was a journey full of twists, turns and many sacrifices. No one selflessly gave up more along the way than my wife Julie and my son Liam. The upheaval of leaving a career behind or changing high schools and universities along the way was not without its challenges. Thank you to you both for your understanding, support, flexibility and willingness to embrace the adventure of each new community. It has made us stronger and our lives much richer. Thank you also to our families for all of their support.
I have been fortunate to get to lead some fantastic teams over the past fifteen years. The most important takeaway is that much of the learning comes from those who you are supervising. There are some of my former co-workers here today, both regular members, and public servants, that have done a great job of mentoring up, teaching me what works and what is important when leading a team. I want to thank you for the time and energy you spent in being candid, in embracing innovation and challenge, and in caring about the people we serve and the employees we all work with. You did a great job of keeping me on track and out of the ditch along the way.
I have inherited a very strong team from my predecessor Deputy Commissioner Zablocki. He provided strong and effective leadership through some very challenging times over the past few years here in Saskatchewan. His personal engagement, relationship building, and flexibility has left a mark on a team that I am proud to inherit.
The responsibility and expectations that come with the role of Commanding Officer are not lost on me. I view our team of employees and volunteers as a family. A family that needs to work together, support each other, challenge each other, and keep each other safe. Most importantly, a family that does not lose sight of who we are here to serve. We often see people at their most vulnerable. We have a duty to ensure that they are treated with fairness, compassion, and understanding.
This is a time of great change in the RCMP. The Commissioner, in her comments mentioned the focus on Vision150. Never in my service have I seen such strong levels of support and interest in modernization and in embracing change in the organization. I have been meeting employees from across the Province and have been impressed by their pride, competence, intelligence, and commitment to moving us forward. We have some great initiatives underway on a variety of fronts, most of which are based on suggestions from our people.
I encourage all of our employees to keep implementing and testing some of these new concepts and initiatives. Most importantly, do not feel that you have to wait for the concept or initiative to be perfect before you launch it. Waiting for perfection over the years has prevented a lot of great ideas from becoming a reality.
I feel fortunate to be here in Saskatchewan at this time. We enjoy strong support from government and already I have seen their interest in supporting innovation and modernization efforts both on the operational and administrative fronts. The same goes for our relationships with key partners at SARM, SUMA, FSIN, and the Metis Nation. Their willingness to embrace change and accept some of the risk that comes with innovation makes it a great environment to work and lead in.
Some key areas I want to see us focusing on are:
Continuing the progress we are making on combatting rural crime and property crime rates,
Advancing reconciliation with our Indigenous communities,
Decreasing our rates of domestic violence in this Province, and
Addressing the impact of gang violence and organized crime in our communities.
On the internal front, we need to ensure we have the equipment and supports in place to give our employees every opportunity to be their best. At all levels, we also have a duty to our team and those we serve to take the time to mentor and help the next one in line. When we leave, we want to ensure that we have done everything possible to prepare those that step in behind us for the best chance of success.
We are in a service industry, and at this time in our history, it is critically important that none of us lose sight of that. Public trust and confidence can easily be lost. We are in an environment where our contract partners and our prospective employees have choices. We want to be the police service of choice and maintain that proud history that the employees and veterans who preceded us worked so hard to build.
Growing up on a farm in small town Alberta, I learned the importance of community and a strong work ethic. Those lessons are something I hold dear. Being engaged and involved in our communities is key to everything we do.
Very early in my career, I lost my two best friends to suicide within six months. One of them was my Recruit Field RCMP trainer when I left Depot. He reinforced for me the importance of treating vulnerable people with respect and dignity. He also taught me that even the strongest of us can fall. As co-workers, we need to be aware of the signs of mental illness and create an environment where we talk openly about the mental challenges and stresses that come with our line of work.
At twenty years of service, I left the RCMP to be a municipal police chief in a small department. Two and a half years later, I had the opportunity to come back to the RCMP and have never looked back. I came back because of the people we have in our organization, the history and our culture. Sometimes it takes that step back to realize what a great thing we have. I am so proud of our people, their commitment, their ability to embrace adventure, challenge, and the great things that we get the opportunity to do by serving in the RCMP. It is a privilege to wear this uniform and to serve alongside our employees.
As your Commanding Officer, I ask that together we continue to work hard, support and engage with our communities, treat others with dignity and respect, and take the time to look after each other and your families so that, moving forward together, we can all be at our very best.
Thank you and enjoy the ceremony/merci beaucoup/megwetch.