This year's cancelled RCMP Musical Ride tour has resulted in some of its riders returning to operational work — up North.
In April we came to the realization our tour wasn't going to happen," says Supt. Kevin Fahey, Officer in Charge, who noted the only other cancellations in the ride's history occurred during the First and Second World War.
The Ottawa-based unit consists of 32 riders, their horses and a large support team. With the unexpected downtime, some officers continued to train while others volunteered to complete relief deployments.
We have a lot of members who just came from the field who were eager to jump back in," says Fahey.
Members of the ride were expected to go on 37 relief deployments by the end of 2020.
Embracing the North
A few officers, such as Cst. Jerry Hoang, have gone on multiple deployments.
I never want to lose the ability to police. And these postings are a great way to experience the North," says Hoang, who's helped out in three northern detachments, including most recently Coral Harbour, Nunavut. "
The summers are beautiful but you have to be ready for the cold and the polar bears."
Hoang, whose first year on the ride would have been 2020, says working in the North has helped reinforce how important RCMP officers are to their communities, how trust is earned and how to cope.
The officers are definitely happy to get the help to get things done and most people seem happy to see us," says Hoang. "
But I think if you want their respect, you have to make sure you give it and let them know you want to be in their community."
For any officer considering relief work in remote northern locations, Hoang says they need to be prepared for the isolation and, in winter months, the darkness.
Cst. Justine Rogawski, who's been on the ride for two years, says she had a little apprehension before her deployment to Pond Inlet, Nunavut, but left with a renewed sense of purpose.
I'd been away from general duty policing for a while, so I was a little unsure, but the officers there made everything so easy and we never went out alone," says Rogawski, who was impressed by police operations in the Baffin Island community.
Everyone came to calls — the officers, social workers and other counsellors would be there to figure out what was going on and the best way to help the client," she says. "
I think that type of service goes a long way to help people."
Now back in Ottawa, Rogawski says she's eager to get back on the ride.
While it's unclear what form the Musical Ride tour will take in 2021 — with virtual or possibly live shows — Rogawski says she values her time in the North.
We represent the RCMP," she says. "
When you're on the ride, it's easy just to focus on that. But we're out there to represent everyone, like the officers in Pond Inlet who are doing such great work, are being asked to do more with less, and who go that extra mile to help."