A Delta police officer has received a national policing award for his efforts in promoting equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI).
On Sunday, Aug. 7, Const. Joel Thirsk was recognized by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) and presented with the CACP/Axon Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Award during the opening ceremonies of the association’s annual conference in Quebec City.
The award “recognizes excellence, dedication and initiative to enhance community trust and create a corporate culture that is fair, supportive and inclusive,” according to a CACP press release, and is presented to an individual “who demonstrates a passion for achieving progress in this area.”
Const. Thirsk was honoured for his leadership within the DPD’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Unit (EDIU).
“Through the EDIU, Const. Thirsk champions leadership behaviours and aims to centralize, support and advance a greater sense of belonging and engagement within the DPD and within the community. He encourages a supportive environment, which is nurturing of cultural, ethnic, racial, gender, language and other human differences and drives engagement to achieve an inclusive work environment through various initiatives,” the release states.
Among Thirsk’s most significant accomplishments is the implementation of the DPD’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Roadmap, which focuses on emerging issues and challenges both from an external perspective based on guidance from community partners, and an internal perspective based on input received from DPD staff across all ranks and positions.
Thirsk also created and distributed the DPD’s Hate Crime Tool Kit, reviewed and updated departmental policies to ensure they aligned with EDI best practices, and developed and delivered training on anti-racism and discrimination, active bystandership, mindfulness, systemic racism and unconscious bias.
He also launched and authored an internal monthly newsletter updating employees on EDI initiatives, progress and national trends, an initiative that was expanded province-wide through the British Columbia Association of Chiefs of Police.
“This year’s laureate is proof of the tremendous difference one person can make in bringing about positive change in terms of attitudes, behaviours and policy. The reach and impact of Cons. Thirsk’s initiatives began within his police service and community but are now being felt across the province and are influencing and inspiring EDI at a national level,” Deputy Chief Farica Prince, co-chair of CACP’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee, said in a press release.
“Const. Thirsk is to be commended for his drive for change and the leadership to support dynamic, long-lasting and impactful initiatives to facilitate this change,” added Vishal Dhir, senior vice-president for the Americas with award sponsor Axon Public Safety Canada. “It’s one thing to personally act in a way that supports EDI; it’s another to successfully inspire others to do so as well. This type of commitment and success should be recognized and rewarded.”
In a press release, DPD Chief Constable Neil Dubord commended Thirsk, saying his leadership in developing the DPD’s EDI program is “nothing short of exceptional.”
“Const. Thirsk has created a path for the DPD to continue this important journey of continuous improvement.”