Ontario Women in Law Enforcement has announced the winners of its 23rd Annual OWLE awards and a local woman is being recognized for her community service and commitment to the force.
Staff Sergeant Cheryl Gervais of the Treaty Three Police Service was the recipient of the Community Service Award for her numerous efforts.
To name a few, she established the Treaty Three Police Service All Girls Gathering, launched the Missing Person and Anti-Human Trafficking Awareness Days, her work on the Honouring and Empowering Indigenous Women and Girls New Year’s Eve Pow-wows, she is a member of the Domestic Violence Advisory Committee, Sexual Assault Partner Abuse Committee, and Youth Justice Committee, volunteered for the Victim Services of Kenora and Area. She has served as Director, Secretary, Treasurer, Vice Chair and Chair for this organization and is currently an Advisor for the Treaty Three Police Service.
This is only the tip of the iceberg as to what Gervais has contributed towards her community.
"It was certainly humbling when I found out I was the recipient. I knew I was nominated by Chief Kai Liu and the nomination alone meant a lot to me because I certainly didn't start any of that work for the recognition. It was an honour just to be nominated, so when I found out I was the winner - it was a very proud moment for myself," said Gervais.
Gervais started with the Treaty Three Police service when it was founded in 2003 and since, has taken it upon herself to create a number for programs and initiatives to help her community.
"I was interested in policing to help people. That has been the foundation that I have carried throughout my career with Treaty Three. Policing is rewarding and challenging at times, but that is what grounds me - this kind of work," she added.
Gervais is the first member out of the Treaty Three Police Service to be recognized by the OWLE awards, but not the first Indigenous woman in our region. Alana Morrison from Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service was the recipient of the 2018 OWLE Law Enforcement Professional of the Year Award. She was nominated for her work in pioneering and engineering the Survivor Assistance Support Program (SAS), a newly- established victim services unit.
"As much as it is an honour to receive the award. I want to acknowledge that all of those projects I worked on, there have been other women and partner agencies that have been just as important to move those projects forward. No one does it alone and when women come together, great things can be accomplished," she said.
OWLE Award Winners:
Officer of the Year - Joanna Beaven-Desjardins - Toronto Police
Leadership - Susan Garrett-Bural - Windsor Police
Community Service - Cheryl Gervais - Threaty Three Police
Mentoring and Coaching - Lissa Ruocco - Toronto Police
Excellence in Performance - Valarie Gates - Barrie Police
Teamwork - ABLE & Jacquline Edwards
Civilian Achievement - Jackie Reilly - OPP
Innovation - Adrienne Vickery - RCMP
Bravery - Katia Cristicini - Niagara Police
"Since joining the Treaty Three Police Service, Staff Sergeant Gervais has been the catalyst for the creation and implementation of numerous programs with a focus on service to others. Between 2015 and 2019, in an effort to respond to the needs of her community, Staff Sergeant Gervais helped establish the Treaty Three Police Service All Girls Gathering. The purpose of these events was to create a space to empower Indigenous women and girls through cultural and educational activities. Activities included cultural teachings, presentations, and exercises by champions in violence against women and girls’ advocacy. Additionally, under the Support Our Survivors Program, Staff Sergeant Gervais organized an exhibition hockey game between the Treaty Three Police Service and a local girls’ high school hockey team in 2018.
Staff Sergeant Gervais launched the Missing Person and Anti-Human Trafficking Awareness Days in 2016, 2017, and 2018. This pilot project was established in partnership with the OPP and community stakeholders including the OPP Anti-Human Trafficking Unit, Canadian Centre for Child Protection, and Ontario Forensic Pathology Service. The goal was to provide an opportunity for community members and police to work together to remove barriers when reporting a missing person. It also offered an opportunity to collect DNA samples from family members of missing persons for identification purposes and shed light on misconceptions surrounding the reporting of missing persons.
Another example of Staff Sergeant Gervais’s commitment to her community can be seen through her work on the Honouring and Empowering Indigenous Women and Girls New Year’s Eve Pow-wows that she pioneered from 2015 to 2019. These events helped raise awareness of violence against Indigenous women and girls. Staff Sergeant Gervais assumed the role of Coordinator, participated on the Planning Committee, garnered support from numerous partner agencies, and procured funds through a grant application.
Staff Sergeant Gervais has also endeavored to develop and nurture relationships, build partnerships to establish trust, and resolve issues with cultural leaders, business owners, service groups and other stakeholders through volunteering. For example, between 2006 and 2010, Staff Sergeant Gervais was a member of the Domestic Violence Advisory Committee, Sexual Assault Partner Abuse Committee, and Youth Justice Committee. Since 2009, she has also volunteered for the Victim Services of Kenora and Area. She has served as Director, Secretary, Treasurer, Vice Chair and Chair for this organization and is currently an Advisor for the Treaty Three Police Service.
Since 2015, Staff Sergeant Gervais has been a representative for the Treaty Three Police Service on the Kenora Coalition to End Human Trafficking and is currently the Chair of a MOU Sub-Committee. Since 2019, she has been a member of the Kenora Rainy River District Human Services and Justice Coordinating Committee as well as the Crisis Services Design Working Group Committee. Most recently, in 2020, Staff Sergeant Gervais has volunteered as: Director for the Kenora Sexual Assault Centre; Committee Member for Safe Communities Kenora; Member of the Kenora MAKWA Patrol Community Council; and Member of the Youth Restorative Justice Committee. She also currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Saakate House Women’s Shelter as an Advisor for the Treaty Three Police Service. Other volunteer positions include her work as a Committee Member of the Complex Care Client Meeting – Lake of the Woods District Hospital as well as the Canadian Mental Health Association Safe Bed Committee. She has served as a Member of the Transfer of Care Protocol – Lake of the Woods District Hospital with the Kenora OPP and has also been a Member of the Kenora Substance Abuse and Mental Health Task Force - Enforcement Pillar since 2019.
Additionally, Staff Sergeant Gervais often speaks to community groups in an effort to build and foster relationships through mutual respect and commitment. Throughout her career, she has prepared and delivered numerous presentations to community organizations and other service providers regarding abuse issues and has assisted with the development of sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse protocols.
As has been demonstrated through a lifetime of work and dedicated service to her community, Staff Sergeant Cheryl Gervais is to be commended for her true dedication to community service. Treaty Three Police Service," wrote Kai Liu in his nomination letter to OWLE.