One thing to be proud of as a Winnipegger and as a Canadian
One thing to be proud of as a Winnipegger and as a Canadian
One of the most rewarding weeks of my career: having he privilege of working with an incredible team of officers, to assist in putting on a career exhibition for 64 incredible people from all over the world. Reading all of their resumes and stories, I was blown away by the calibre of people, with high education and professional experience, from diverse backgrounds, who are interested in policing. It’s a good day for the policing profession and for Winnipeg.
Next is out Youth Empowerment Gathering coming August 23rd/24th
If you know interested youth….
Chapter 1. Sharing Circles: The Benefits and Limitations in Peacebuilding Initiatives
Dr. Cathy Rocke
Chapter 2. Applying the Conflict Transformation Lens to Understand Why Indigenous Canadians Drop Out of School
Dr. Laura Reimer
Chapter 3. Peacebuilding Projects as a Conflict Transformation Tool: A Meso-level Perspective from Winnipeg
Dr. Kawser Ahmed
Chapter 4. Stories From Survivors of Canada’s Sex Industry
Dr. Bob Chrismas
Chapter 5. Hermeneutic Phenomenological Understandings of Canadian Soldiers’ Experiences in Peace Support Operations
Dr. Patlee Creary
Chapter 6. Racialized and Gendered Peacebuilding in the U.S.-Mexico Border Justice Movement
Dr. Jodi Dueck-Read
Chapter 7. The Role of Transitional Justice in Conflict Transformation and Peacebuilding in Kenya
Dr. Peter Karari
Chapter 8. Living with Others: Learning for Peace and Global Citizenship
Dr. Lloyd Kornelsen
Chapter 9. Players or Pawns? Protest, Participation, and Principled Nonviolence at the 1968 Summer Olympics
Dr. Chris Hrynkow
Chapter 10. Towards an Integrated Framework of Conflict Resolution and Transformation in Environmental Policymaking: Case Study of the North American Great Lakes Area
Dr. Olga Skarloto
Chapter 11. “You’re sitting in my desk!” Researching the ‘Past in the Present’ in Israel
Dr. Katerina Standish
Chapter 12. The Challenge of Local Ownership of Peacebuilding in Afghanistan: Dependency, Biased Coordination, and Scant Timelines
Dr. Chuck Thiessen
Reflecting on Canada Day and the freedoms we enjoy, and how people sacrificed for them. My mother Violet describes how her father left for war when she was 10 years old, and she and her sister and mother did not see him for six years, until the end of the war. Even with advanced memory loss, Violet remembers it clearly. It is interesting as well to hear Barb’s parents accounts of living in Germany as teens during the World War and having the same experiences, loss of family, food rations, fear of the unknown and all that comes with war.
IPAC Chat is a periodic series prepared by members of the board of the Manitoba regional group of the Institute of Public Administration of Canada.
This month’s post is prepared by long time IPAC Manitoba Board member, Bob Chrismas, MPA, PhD. Bob is currently in his 29th year with the Winnipeg Police Service, where, as a Staff Sergeant, he oversees units involved in community partnerships and engagement: Indigenous and newcomer partnerships, crime prevention, victim services, school resource officers and the Cadet program.
As a fledgling writer, I’ve felt compelled to share my experiences and encourage my friends and colleagues to pursue the same rewards that I’ve had the good fortune of in the first years of my writing practice. I say practice in the sense that yoga teachers say, it is a journey that you work at and never reach the end. Writing can be a chance at affecting public opinion, the discourse on important issues, with far reach now and long into the future.
On the influence of writing, Carl Sagan wrote eloquently, “A book is made from a tree. It is an assemblage of flat, flexible parts (still called “leaves”) imprinted with dark pigmented squiggles. One glance at it and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently, inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time––proof that humans can work magic.” Many spoken on the reach and permanence of literature, but perhaps Isaac Asimov said it most succinctly when he wrote, “I don’t believe in personal immortality; the only way I expect to have some version of such a thing is through my books.”
Personally, I have felt and often preached to my friends that I feel compelled to leave some evidence that I existed, and to impose on arguments perhaps long after I am dead and gone. So, I write, blogs, articles, papers, book chapters, passionately pursuing the opportunity to duplicate the wonderful experience I felt pushing out my first book on Policing. My next one will be based on my thesis, on human slavery in Canada, and the third is in the gestation phase. Adding to the literature, I’ve found a privileged opportunity to give voice to others, and I was happy in the research for this piece to find that Albert Camus agreed when he wrote, “We [writers] must know that we can never escape the common misery and that our only justification, if indeed there is a justification, is to speak up, insofar as we can, for those who cannot do so.”
For these reasons, I’ve strived to make a point, anytime and in any platform available, hoping to contribute to the public good. Avoiding a rabbit hole, assessing the efficacy and accessibility of scholarly academic journals, I have come to favour open access platforms that can be shared freely, and without charge. In this same line of reasoning, I find the most rewarding formats are the ones that have the farthest reach; but I’ll take what I can get, and have written small and large pieces for peer reviewed journals, magazine and new pieces, news letters and blogs; platforms that are available to all of us and anyone can contribute if they want to put in the work.
My message is for those who have thought of it and do not know where to begin. I have the answer; just start. It is a process and a journey that any of us can embark on. George Orwell wrote, “When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art.’ I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.” There is no right way, and we each have our own unique voice that we can unlock through the work of learning. Woody Allen wrote, “If you’re not failing now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative.” Like any art form, we all have a possibility of enhancing the talent we are born with through practice and work. Stephen King wrote, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There is no way around these two things that I am aware of, no shortcut.” He has also said, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” I would add that love of the work is something that can grow if we avoid the barriers and frustration of rejection. We need to stay true to our convictions and the influence we hope to achieve. There is no right or wrong way, as Ernest Hemingway postulates, “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” Sometimes, for aspiring writers, we need to put the pen aside for a few days and find in life the message we hope to create. “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing” (Benjamin Franklin).
My closing message for this piece, is to encourage you to give your voice a chance, if you feel it is a journey you want to go on. Through my graduate and post graduate studies, I have often heard that every thesis and dissertation is a brick in the great wall of knowledge (author unknown). I would extend this thought further, and add that every piece of writing, whether it is in the workplace newsletter, a Facebook post, or a 500-page book, becomes a piece in our collective knowledge. You never know when a seemingly small idea put to paper might become the seed that starts the growth of a forest with ten thousand trees. The last word goes to Henry David Thoreau; “Write while the heat is in you. … The writer who postpones the recording of his thoughts uses an iron which has cooled to burn a hole with.”
I quit school to join the workforce when I was 16 years old, but always knew I would return to complete my education someway, somehow. I was always working; in fact being tired all the time may have resulted in my not finishing high school. At 16, I was delivering pizza every night for Gondola, slopping horses at the race track at six each morning, and doing odd construction jobs on weekends, so I was pretty much independent from a young age.
As a child, I thought of myself as a philsophical person, somewhat of a poet, but I wasn’t feeling fulfilled in high school. One teacher, who I liked and respected, took me aside one day and even encouraged me to leave school; I’ve always felt he let me down at that time. When my buddy Duane suggested we quit and go down West, I said OK. I finally found some work as a logger in BC, but got laid off within a few months before I came back to Winnipeg to do a variety of construction and factory jobs. Concrete work was hard. I still thank my lucky stars that I don’t do that for a living, every time I drive by a construction crew. Landscaping was OK, it is outdoors and not too dangerous, but I still recall the time my workmate got taken away by ambulance because he inhaled too much dry dirt.
One moment of truth came when I was 19 years old, working at the old Five Roses Flour Mill in Winnipeg. It was a dirty, tough job and I saw something that made me think. I saw a man, a machine tender talking to the shop stuart, it was a union shop, and he was upset. He said a young manager told him to dump a 100-pound bag of flour down a chute. I’m a machine tender, its not my job, and I have a bad back- he said. The manager said do it or go home. This man had worked there for maybe 20 years, and would have a hard time finding other work. I said to myself right then and there, I better get back to school, otherwise I’ll still be doing this dirty job when I am 50.
Looking for options, I started checking adult education and high schools for ways for me to go back. One day, I stopped in at the University of Winnipeg Collegiate. It was a different kind of place, as it was part of the University. I met a kind principal named Vanderstoel. I had a poor school record, but I felt I could possibly finish high school and who knows where that might lead. In about five minutes, Mr. Vanderstoel set me up to do my high school courses and a course in first year university as well. This sent my life on a whole new trajectory for the next seven years, finishing high school and then my bachelor’s degree. I told the management at Five Roses Flour I was quitting to go back to school and an interesting thing happened. By the end of that day they came to me and said they had talked it over and they’d created a job for me; I was to watch for fires. So, for the next year I worked two 16 hour shifts at the flour mill each weekend, studying for high school, and walking through the mill once per hour to watch for fires. In hindsight, I realized later how nice that was of them; but, they needed that fire watch as the place eventually burnt down, not on my watch, but long after I had moved on.
I took courses at the University of Winnipeg, year around while working four jobs, finishing high school. For many years I worked out at the YMCA, bodybuilding and strength training, when I wasn’t training in the martial arts. The YMCA was the only weight room in the City. From the age of 13 I used to meet my Dad there; he would go after work and I would bus down there after school and then catch a ride home. I still went there when I was 19, and one guy at the gym was a senior supervisor in the Sheriff’s Office; he hired me as a Sheriff. It was a good job for studying and great experience in the courts and prisons. I also worked other jobs, supervising federal prison inmates in a halfway house owned by the Native Clan Organization. For about a year, at one time, I was working fulltime as a Sheriff during the week, then I would report to Regina house and work from Friday evening, around the clock, to Sunday night, 40 hours, every weekend. Then in the evenings during the week I was the night manager of the Holiday Inn downtown; that was a job that evolved from when I was the bouncer in the nightclub and an opening came up to take over the security department. My wife Barb and I both worked there, and that is where we met. I was always taking courses and always studying ever chance I got.
I was a Sheriff’s Officer for five years and achieved the coveted permanent provincial appointment, which means you have benefits and cannot be laid off. However, I reached a point in 1987 where I could complete my BA if I went fulltime to school, so I made a leap and did it, giving up my provincial job; another crossroad. I was also a part-time soldier for years, with the Fort Gary Horse, and I eventually gave that up when I went into policing. I started in 1989 with the Winnipeg Police Service, after graduating with my BA. I moved up the ranks to my current position of Staff Sergeant, 29 years later. On the job training is a whole other story, after all the specializations I pursued, I had a resume 20 pages long.
Eighteen years into my policing career I started looking to further my university education. Looking at law school and various graduate programs, on the advice of one of our deputy police chiefs, I ended up in the Politics Department, at the University of Winnipeg. The chair of the Masters program (joint between the U. of Manitoba and U. of Winnipeg) in Public Administration said I might be a candidate, but why not try one course and see how it goes? She said the core theory course starts next week. I was nervous and unsure, but I made a snap decision and got re-admitted to the University of Winnipeg, and got permission to take the one course. Making that decision sent my life in an entirely different direction. I was unsure if I belonged, or if I could do it, but in the end, I loved it and did well. I took course after course and eventually was admitted to the program, finally completing it, with distinction, in 2009. Throughout my grad studies I always chose paper topics that I might apply in my policing career. They became the core of the first book I published, Canadian Policing in the 21stCentury: A frontline officer on challenges and changes (McGill-Queens University Press, 2013).
Grad studies in addition to my public service career was so rewarding and enriching that I wanted to continue it. Dr. Byrne, chair of the Peace and Conflict Studies (PACS) Program, in the Arthur V. Mauro Center for Peace and justice, was kind and advised that I may be a candidate, so why not put in an application. The PACS program is one of the few PhD programs of its kind, and is unique in Canada. After I applied, they advised that I had no background in Peace Studies, but why not join the new PACS Masters degree that was started in 2010. I already had a master’s degree, but I just wanted my learning to continue, so I jumped into it.
One of the highlights of that program was travelling across South Africa, studying truth and reconciliation. Another highlight was rolling out my book on policing, presenting on it as far away as Hong Kong. Barb and I loved doing book signings for years; and I was always taking courses. At one point, in 2012, I suggested to the University of Manitoba that I have almost completed a Masters in Peace and Conflict Studies, and therefore now have a pretty good grounding in the field, maybe my studies should be applied towards a PhD? They agreed, and I embarked on completing my PhD. My dissertation, titled Modern Day Slavery and the Sex Industry, was on a topic that I became passionate about through my police work. It was just awarded the distinguished dissertation award by the University of Manitoba. I was proud to achieve this, because even now, I often feel insecure, like I don’t belong in the University, like I tricked the system somehow and just have not been found out yet.
People often ask me how I found time to finish a PhD while working full time and being father to four children. I most often say, half-joking, but actually not joking at all, at three in the morning, in the off times, when the kids were sleeping and when I was not required to do anything else. I always had a brief case with my coursework with me, always grabbing a minute here and there- and it all adds up. I had a lawn chair in the trunk of the car and always volunteered to drive the kids to their soccer games, basketball games, karate, swimming; a soccer game is good for two hours of reading. Of course, it was also a sacrifice for Barb, and Crystal, Chelsea, Brandi and Bobby; but my hope is that the example I tried to set, as a life-long learner, has made an impression and rubbed off on them. I believe it has, and I am proud of them all.
University is a special place for me, it has been the institution that stood behind a young man with hopes and dreams of a higher education, and all the doors it has opened for me. It changed the trajectory for a kid who quit school to work as a laborer. As a life-long learner I have always, throughout my whole adult life, felt proud and thankful for the important role that education has played for me, and the role it plays for thousands of people each year in achieving a better more fulfilling life. Now, as I have 20 academic papers, books and book chapters in various stages of publication, I can’t help but think back to the crossroads that send people here rather than there in life.
My hope is to use my story to encourage and inspire others, not so much to seek formal education, but to remain curious about the world, and keep learning. “Lifelong Learning is not a product of schooling but the lifelong attempt to acquire it” (Physicist & Nobel Laureate Albert Einstein, 1879 – 1955). Of course, my life’s journey of learning and unexpected lessons was directed in part by the strange experiences that came with 40 years in peace keeping professions, and a life dedicated to my wife and four loving children who in turn inspired and supported my educational journey.
My Dad was an educated man, a tradesman who could build anything with his hands, but he had very little formal education. Mom dedicated herself to our family. Life and learning is not about formal education; it is about being curious about the world and always asking questions. Now in my 29thyear of policing I still literally wear a blue collar at work. I am proud of it, coming from a blue-collar background, and from a blue-collar family, and so proud of my Dad for always encouraging me to do what I feel passionate about in life. On his death bed, he said “life is short, don’t take things for granted and don’t take yourself too seriously.” Words that stuck with me. My message to you is to keep learning and engaging with life, it is the journey that is most meaningful, not the destination.
Norwood Hotel, Promenade Room B Friday, June 8, 2018- provided a 1.5 hour presentation on breaking the silence over violence against women.
Pleasure today to talk to youth from all over Northern and Southern Rural Manitoba today, Frontier School Division, on how to stay safe in the City. A large finding in my PhD research the rural/urban human trafficking pipelines that traffickers take advantage of, knowing our youth often have to come into larger urban centres to continue their schooling; we must work together to keep them safe.
Proud Dad, so pleased I was invited to join the Academic Procession and be the first on stage to congratulate my wonderful daughter Brandi Tuesday (June 5th), receiving her Bachelor of Arts (advanced), at the University of Manitoba. Brandi is the only person I know who has published multiple articles in her undergrad studies; a bright young scholar who is going places in her public service career. Congratulations Brandi, all your hard work and tenacity has paid off- and the bigger journey is just beginning.
What a great experience attending with Chief Smyth and all the dedicated School Resource and Education Officers, for the yearly Patrol Awards, particularly gratifying as it caused me to reflect back on my career of community service, which really started with being a School Patrol Captain, at Royal-Ecole School, 44 years ago. I believe many of these youth will continue on a path as peace-keepers.
Also happy I was able to teach them something about respect, holding a minute of silence for officer Steve Dzikowski, who signed my Patrol Certificate in 1974, retired in 1987, and passed away this week.
Our daughter Chelsea had a dream to become a Yoga teacher. She practised and took classes, for years, and eventually got accepted into a reputed Yoga teacher school in India. She gutted through the intensive training, despite being taken to the clinic twice and hospitalized once, for travellers sicknesses, over the month-plus intensive training.
She gave free public lessons in Assiniboine Park for a year, and private lessons every chance she got. Now she will teach in a brand new studio opening next week in Winnipeg. Chelsea has maintained a strict plant-based diet for three years, and is studying for her degree in kinesiology, all to improve her holistic practice, and she will help people live healthier and more fulfilled lives.
It goes to show that we just need a vision and some passion, and a will to make it happen, and any dream can come true. People can move mountains, they just need to believe in themselves and put one foot in front of the other until the dreams become reality.
Loved participating in this Celebration of Diversity Monday evening, at Elmwood High school; youth from 20 different countries made this flag, brought ethnic food and demonstrated their ethnic songs and dances.
GRATEFUL for a wife and family that loves, friends who care, and colleagues with mutual respect
GRATEFUL for parents who taught me to be fair, kind, and to work hard for a place in the world
GRATEFUL to be free and have had the opportunity to seek an education
GRATEFUL for mentors and teachers who pay forward for the gifts they’ve been given
GRATEFUL for adversity, because otherwise how could we appreciate overcoming it
GRATEFUL to have a voice to speak, write, and leave a legacy, no matter how small
GRATEFUL for health, and the life I’ve had doing what I wish
GRATEFUL to live in a diverse community, with access to the best of many cultures
GRATEFUL to have the opportunity to serve, family, friends and community