By RON FANFAIR
Elected officials and community leaders are important to the governance of a country. But the police are the most visible barometer in a functioning democracy, says Toronto Police Service (TPS) Deputy Chief Peter Sloly.
“When you walk off a plane, you see an officer at the customs booth,” Sloly said in his keynote address at the eighth annual Second Chance Scholarship awards luncheon last Sunday in Scarborough. “When you first ask for directions, you are not talking to Margarett Best, but instead to a police officer in downtown Toronto and you start to judge the society on the reception you get, the service you get and the impression you get from the police officer.
“So this uniform I am wearing carries a great deal of weight in this country and in any functioning democracy.”
Sloly said his organization is dedicated to building healthy relationships with the communities it serves. Over the years, the TPS has been accused of negative policing.
“The police can no longer be reactive and enforcement-focused,” he said. “We have to be proactive and prevention-focused. We can no longer be thinking about power and authority. We have to be thinking about how we engage and reach out to communities. Then we will start to shrink the gap.”
Sloly reiterated that effective policing can only be attained when the community and law enforcement work together.
“The police can’t do it alone with 5,550 officers in a city of three million people,” he said. “There is simply no way that all of those police officers can do all the things we need to do to keep this a safe and just city. We need your help. But if we do things that cause you not to want to help us, not to want to trust us, not to want to trust your politicians and not to want to trust this society, we undermine our very core mandate.
“We need your hearts and minds, we need your eyes and ears and we need your hands, ultimately.”
The youngest officer to hold the second highest rank in the TPS, 43-year-old Sloly congratulated five outstanding young leaders and professionals honoured at the event. They were Kai James, son of York University professor Dr. Carl James, who is pursuing his PhD in aerospace engineering at the University of Toronto; corporate and civil litigator Tanya Walker; CP 24 anchor and traffic/weather specialist Nneka Elliott; University of Toronto Masters student and community worker Kwesi Johnson and aspiring medical practitioner Monique Habbib.
“Black History and history means nothing if it is not used to build our future,” Sloly said. “We are celebrating our future in the form of our youth, the scholarship award recipients and other young people who have joined us from the Scarborough Boys and Girls Club as well…Your uniqueness is a wonderful thing and I urge you to hold on to what makes you different. How you see yourself matters. How others see you matters less.”
Operation Black Vote Canada, TNT Eagles and Community Unity Alliance collaborate to host the Second Chance Scholarship awards gala that also recognizes an individual for committed leadership in the community. This year’s recipient was Mary Glavassevich, the vice-president of the Montserrat Association of Toronto (MAT) and patient care manager at Sunnybrook Health Science Centre for the past 36 years.
“My work in the community and my role in helping others to succeed are important to me,” said Glavassevich, who was the 2009 recipient of the Lawrence Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing award for her important lifetime contributions and dedication to health care and the nursing profession. “It’s my ambition to go into high schools and help young people decide on a career path.”
Glavassevich left Montserrat at age 19 to study nursing in England. She completed her registered nurse’s training in Blackburn, Lancashire and did her midwifery training in Scotland before coming to Canada to work as a staff nurse in Thunder Bay for a year. She joined Sunnybrook in 1968 as a staff nurse on a surgical unit and was appointed patient care manager in 1974.
In pursuit of higher education, Glavassevich completed her Bachelor’s degree at York University in 1990 and a Masters of Nursing degree at the University of Toronto five years later. She has also pursued several developmental courses, including the Schulich Advanced Leadership course and she has a clinical appointment at the U of T.
Glavassevich was presented with the Canadian Association of Nurses in Oncology Leadership award five years ago, and in 2008 she was part of an award-winning team that did a qualitative exploration of the experiences of families caring for loved ones with advanced ovarian cancer.
She has also been involved in other research projects, made important presentations in Canada and overseas, revised the Bachelor of Arts curriculum at York University’s Atkinson College, fundraised to assist nurses from developing countries to attend a major cancer conference in Toronto two years ago and mentored many nurses and other medical staff.
Funds raised from last Sunday’s event go to the Second Chance Scholarship fund developed to provide young offenders who have served a full sentence with access to financial assistance to offset their post-secondary education costs.
Ontario’s New Democratic Party leader Andrea Horwath, Toronto mayoral candidate George Smitherman and Markham’s Mayor Frank Scarpitti attended the gala while entertainment was provided by Keisha Fanfair, Kay Morris and Michelle Muir.