York cops use vacation to help Jamaica’s poor

By RON FANFAIR

Armand LaBarge is set to make his last trip to Jamaica as the Chief of York Regional Police Service (YRPS).

As chair of the Adopt-A-Mission Committee, he and fellow officers use their vacation to go to the Caribbean island annually to assist the poor and orphans in Trench Town and other Kingston communities. They leave on Sunday.

The YRPS adopted missions after one of its officers – Davis Ahlowalia – was killed in a vehicular accident in Woodbridge in January 2007. A humanitarian, he worked with the poor and disadvantaged in Jamaica and India and spearheaded a fundraising campaign with Missionaries of the Poor organization – founded by Father Richard Ho Lung in 1981 – for an orphanage in Jamaica.

“Much of what I learned about grace, love and service to those in need came from Davis,” said LaBarge, who retires on December 12 after 37 years service. “He came into my office one day and asked if the YRPS could do anything to support Father Ho Lung and the important work he is doing.

“Davis had only being on the force for a year at the time and I couldn’t help but admire his courage and his conviction to help those in need literally a world away. We decided then and there to adopt one of Father Ho Lung’s missions in Jamaica and we decided to send a team of officers there to work alongside Davis and the brothers. Unfortunately, we never got the opportunity to do that together.”

For the past four years, a contingent of YRPS officers, along with Davis’ mother Anna and brother Anil, have gone to Jamaica for a week to perform charitable service.

Deputy Chief Eric Jolliffe, Inspectors Keith Merith and Ricky Veerappan, Staff Sergeant Ezra “Tony” Browne, Sergeant Paul Chiang and Constables Don Yirenkyi and Selma D’Souza will accompany LaBarge on the trip.

“Our work in adopting missions in Kingston was our way of keeping Davis’ dream and legacy of helping others alive,” LaBarge said. “But it was also our way of saying thank you to the people of Jamaica and the Caribbean for helping make their adopted homeland of Canada the greatest country in the world.”

LaBarge has not ruled out the possibility of working with the missions after he retires. He plans to pursue academia and volunteering.

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