Blue Line

Police chief has ‘people centric, values based’ approach

November 13, 2023  By Mike Stimpson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Nov. 13, 2023, Kenora, Ont. – Twenty years after joining the Treaty Three Police Service (T3PS), Cheryl Gervais has reached a new level in her policing career: Chief of Police.

“At no time growing up as an Indigenous girl did I think that I would be here,” she said Friday from her Kenora office as head of the police force for 23 First Nation communities in Treaty 3 territory. “It’s very exciting.”

The Shoal Lake #39 First Nation member joined the T3PS in 2003, the year the service was established as a self-administered policing entity. She was promoted to Staff Sergeant in 2018, then to Inspector in 2022. The service announced her newest promotion on Nov. 3.

“People-centric, values-based and culturally sensitive” is how Gervais described her approach to law enforcement.

“My core values are connection to community, to culture, to my family,” she said, adding that collaboration and empowerment are also important to her.

She said empowerment includes both self-empowerment “and empowerment of others through mentoring within our service and doing activities in the community such as our All Girls Gathering.”

The first All Girls Gathering for Treaty 3 territory took place in 2015 in Gervais’s home community of Shoal Lake 39. All Girls Gathering 2023 is set for Nov. 21-23 in Dryden, Fort Frances and Kenora.

Gervais said her people-centric approach is expressed in her work in many ways.

“I think it comes from really taking time to reflect and learn more about myself and how I show up in the community, how I show up within my own organization,” she said.

“And then from that perspective, looking at the people that work within my organization, looking at the people that I serve within the community, they also show up to the table with themselves, right? And then how can I, you know, create that space for them where their experiences and what they’re bringing to the table is valued and heard? I think that’s where I draw from my own personal experience.”

The service’s first female Chief of Police, Gervais takes over from Chief Kai Liu – who “did a lot of work with developing the next leaders within our organization” in his four years at the helm, she said.

“And, you know, I certainly see an opportunity to build on that,” she said.

“And so that’s really my focus: connecting with those working on our front line and really giving those opportunities to our frontline uniform members, supervisors and civilian managers,” she added.

“That’s where I think I can have the biggest impact, by investing in them and empowering them to be able to do their jobs more effectively. If we’re giving them the tools to do their jobs better, then that will impact the public trust and confidence within our whole organization.”

In a news release announcing the promotion of Gervais to chief, the Treaty Three Police Services Board said they are “confident that she will provide strong and effective leadership as (police) work to ensure the safety and well-being of the communities.”

– Thunder Bay Source

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