Surrey: As we all celebrate Canadian Multiculturalism Day today, the Surrey RCMP is working to connect with the many diverse communities it serves both today and throughout the year with its Diversity Unit.
As the City of Surrey continues to grow and attract a wide range of individuals and families, the Surrey RCMP expanded its Diversity Unit earlier this year with the addition of a Diversity and Community Engagement Sergeant, the first position of its kind in the RCMP. Sergeant Paul Hayes was selected for this new position and has been tasked with developing strategic partnerships and identifying issues and topics that are important to our city’s diverse community groups. Together with Diversity Coordinator Yousef Nasimi, Sgt. Hayes is reaching out to local communities and diversity-focussed organizations to build relationships, mutual respect, and a shared understanding.
“The expansion of our Diversity Unit is very timely in light of the increasing number of newcomers, including refugees, that are moving into Surrey,” says Supt. Shawn Gill, Community Services Officer. “Over the past four months, we have been working closely with community agencies to engage with local newcomers to develop trust and an awareness about the role of police in Canada.”
A number of community engagement sessions have been held for newcomers and refugees to dispel any misinformation or misunderstandings about police that may have been acquired from their homelands or peer groups.
“We wanted to show our newest residents that police are approachable and that we are there to help,” says Sgt. Hayes. “Trust cannot be developed overnight and it will take a continued and committed effort on the part of the police to achieve trust, better communication, and positive involvement from these communities.”
The positive feedback received from these sessions has led to additional public forums being requested and planned in multiple languages. In May, a forum was held in Arabic and a Mandarin forum is being planned by the Diversity Unit for July.
“The Surrey RCMP’s Diversity Unit has joined us in ensuring that our immigrant and refugee populations are supported in integrating and thriving in their new environment,” says Corina Carroll, Manager of Counselling Services at DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society. “We have witnessed the power of connection as our newcomers who, because of their experiences prior to arrival, were distrustful and fearful of police, move to seeing them as a new source of support and safety. It has been a pleasure to work with the Diversity Unit and we are confident that this initiative will continue to have a positive impact.”
The Diversity Unit is also responsible for coordinating the Surrey RCMP’s participation at many cultural events this summer to build relationships and provide communities with crime prevention and youth intervention information. The Unit participates in a number of roundtables, meetings and campaigns specific to diverse community groups and is also responsible for internal training around diversity and cultural sensitivity.
Moving forward, the Diversity Unit has plans to expand further by adding two more police officers and another municipal support staff coordinator to keep up with the increasing demand for their services.