Archive for Police Posts

Reflections on Canadian Police Memorial Service 

“A broken heart heals when we allow the healing to go as deep as the wound went.”

– Beth Moore

A lot can change in 18 years.

On Sunday September 29th, I was in Ottawa for the annual Canadian Police & Peace Officers’ Memorial Service. I decided to attend the ceremony because this year’s service fell on the actual 19th anniversary of John’s death.

For moral support, I brought along my brother, Pat, his partner, Mary, and friends of the family, Dennis and Teresa.

On the Saturday evening before the Sunday service, there was a Next-of-Kin Candlelight Vigil. I must confess I didn’t really want to go this event…and I’m not quite sure why. But I’m awfully glad I did.

Pat, Mary and I arrived at the evening event a little late, so we stood at the back of the room, listening to the presentations. Afterwards, I was gathering up my coat when a woman walked over and threw her arms around me.

“Maryanne Pope!” she cried. “You FINALLY made it to the Ottawa service!”

“Yes,” I said, a bit baffled.

“I LOVED your book!” she said. “You told it like it is…right down to how being a new police widow at this service is about as much fun as having a knitting needle poked in your eye! That was PERFECT.”

She introduced herself as another police widow and it all came back to me. We had communicated via e-mail and social media years ago but hadn’t been in touch recently. We chatted a little then she waved another woman over.

“I thought that was you at the back of room!” said the second woman, another police widow, who also gave me a big hug. “I’m so glad you came! I loved your book. I cannot tell you how much it helped me and so many others.”

Then she waved another woman over and it happened again. “I loved your book! Why didn’t you tell us you were coming? You could have joined us for our widows dinner!”

Then we all walked from the building – quietly sharing our stories and heartaches, lessons, hopes and dreams – to the glass panels outside, where the names of all the fallen Canadian peace and police officers are etched.

We found the names of our loved one and placed a tealight at the base of the panel. Someone was softly strumming a guitar and a few family members were singing. It was beautiful. Then people slowly started drifting off.

When I return to Ottawa next year for the 20th anniversary of John’s death, I will most definitely join the other widows for dinner. It would be an honor.

The next day was the actual memorial service. It, too, was beautiful…the weather, the surroundings, the people I was with, the ceremony, the music,  the man I was remembering, the profession for which he gave his life.

The service itself was similar to the one I had attended eighteen years ago as a shattered young police widow. But I am different…my heart has healed.

Here’s an excerpt from my book, A Widow’s Awakening, about my experience of being in Ottawa one year after John’s death (John is “Sam”):

On September 30th, Sam’s family, Ed and I have front row seats at the national memorial service for fallen officers at the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. I’ve tried to mentally prepare myself for today. Tom will be carrying a police hat, representing Sam, on a pillow. There will be thousands of officers from across North America. The media will be filming family members of officers who have passed away in the line of duty during the past year. There will be speeches. There always are.

What I’ve forgotten to factor in, however, is that although I’ve survived a year of widowhood, I am nowhere near healed. Thus it isn’t pride, respect and honour I feel as the pipe band marches by; it’s anger. Boom, boom, boom goes the drum and I’m back at Sam’s funeral watching the pallbearers climb the church steps, struggling beneath the weight of his casket. Who did take more than a fucking date square from his funeral? Has any positive change come from his death? Are workplaces any safer?

You tell me. Since John’s death in 2000, nearly 20,000 Canadians have died as the result of a workplace injury or illness. In 2020, the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund will be producing our ninth public service announcement to raise awareness about this shocking statistic.

Yes, my heart is healed. But the work continues…in the hopes that other people won’t have to go through what I – and thousands of others – have gone through.

Here are a few more photos from the Ottawa service: 

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive her weekly blog, please sign up here.

published in Animals, Change, Charities, John Petropoulos Memorial Fund, Police, Wolves, Workplace Safety by Maryanne | September 14, 2019 | 2 Comments

Can a Sad Story Save a Life?

 

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

– Martin Luther King

Can a sad story save a life?

I don’t know. But this much I do know: doing nothing in the wake of a preventable tragedy won’t bring about a better future. That’s the belief I’ve built my life on for the past 19 years.

When John died of a brain injury after stepping through an unmarked false ceiling in 2000, several of his police recruit classmates stepped up to the plate and started a memorial fund in his honour. Nearly two decades later, the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund is still going strong, raising public awareness about why & how people can make their workplaces safer for everyone, including first responders.

Over the past 19 years, the JPMF has produced eight 30-second workplace safety public service announcements that have aired over 2 million times on TV. The Fund’s powerful 10-minute safety video has been viewed in presentations, at conferences and on-line thousands of times.

In 2020, the JPMF will be producing a new PSA that will raise awareness about the shocking fact that since John’s death in 2000, nearly 20,000 Canadians have died as the result of a workplace injury or illness.

Yes, you read correctly: 20,000 Canadians.

From my perspective, one workplace fatality is one too many; 20,000 deaths (and thousands of life-altering injuries and occupational illnesses) is unacceptable.

It’s time to create a new legacy for workers – and their families – in Canada.

For further information on the new PSA and/or to make a donation to assist with production costs, here is the link.

Or perhaps this fundraiser might be of interest…

John and I both loved wolves. I suppose you could say wolves were our spirit animal…whatever that might mean to you. What that means to me is that, as a person and a police officer, John shared similar characteristics to that of a wolf: integrity, honour, courage, dedication, loyalty, commitment to excellence and being a strong team player.

John and I used to sponsor a wolf in Alberta through the organization, Wolf Awareness. Our sponsored wolf’s name was Nakoda and she was the alpha female of the Peter Lougheed Pack. John and I used to love reading updates about her and her pack’s activities.

When John and Nakoda died within a week of each other, I began to wonder if there really was some sort of connection between John and I and wolves?

I’ll never know for sure, of course. But the JPMF chose the wolf as the logo because the police pack is rather like a wolf pack…

“For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.”

– Rudyard Kipling

Since 2005, more than 2000 wolves in Alberta alone have been killed inhumanely: shot from helicopters, poisoned with Strychnine or caught in strangling snares. Wolves in Western Canada are running out of places to hide…they need our help.

And so, as a fundraiser – and to raise awareness – for both the JPMF and Wolf Awareness, I wrote a little story: A Wolf Called Nakoda. 

The story is $9.95 (plus $2 shipping), with $2 from each story sold going to the JPMF and $2 to Wolf Awareness.

The story is printed on small cards (2.5 inches x 2.5 inches), held together by a stainless-steel book ring and packaged in a pretty little gauze bag with matching tag. The story is 900 words, 22 cards total.

To order, please visit our Etsy store.

Can a sad story save a life…of a wolf and/or a worker? 

That remains to be seen. But this I know: raising awareness about issues that matter is an integral part of bringing about change for the better…and organizations such as the JPMF and Wolf Awareness are doing just that.

Thank you for caring…and for sharing.

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive her weekly blog, please sign up here.

 

 

 

 

 

published in Caregiving, Change, Family, Fatherhood, Motherhood, Mothering Matters, Police, Relationships by Maryanne | May 21, 2016 | No Comment

This is the 5th blog in the 2016 Mothering Matters blog series:

Shifting Gears: Marriage & Motherhood from the Perspective of a Police Spouse

By Jody Laird

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“At home I was dealing with all things baby, a weakening sense of independence and a hero who needed less noise.”

– Jody Laird

When asked to write a blog about being married to a shift worker with a young family, I spent hours peeling back the layers of what this means to me: as a mom, as the wife of a police officer, as an ex-shift worker, as an ex-police dispatcher, as…me.

I find it ironic at all the bombs (a.k.a. sensitivities) that this could set off – being that my police husband was a Bomb Tech for the Tactical Unit when I met him. So I put out to the blog universe a caveat: as unique as we are as individuals, our stories of shift work and police-spousing are perhaps even more so. This article is not advice, just a peek into one home…fair?

Let’s get started:

What I didn’t know when I started dating Glenn is how him becoming a father would change the kind of wife I had to be. Our whirlwind romance was awesome, sexy, fun, fast, loud, quiet and complimented each other’s single lives.

I know it is to my advantage that Glenn was already a police officer when we met (I hear it’s tough for spouses who live through that “change” in the state of the world that police officers go through) and I feel like I have a bit of an advantage in my husband’s mental-toughness at work because I became a dispatcher in the first year of our relationship.

What also saved us is that I didn’t stay in that shift work and position – I had my taste and I got out. I’ll explain why that was important in a moment.

I have come to learn that we don’t marry the Hero, we marry the Man. 

The hero has to be strong, the man needs to be vulnerable. The hero has to be “on,” the man needs time to shut off. The hero has to smile around job disappointments, position post promotion, the promotions process itself, and an outside deteriorating respect for putting his life on the line.

It was becoming a Dad for Glenn that put a magnifying glass on this dichotomy. It amazes me how as DINKs, the Hero/Man tug of war was mostly fought by Glenn on his own. Don’t get me wrong: I was a loving, supportive spouse – but Glenn could go off with the guys at a drop of an invite, spend extra hours at Choir Practice, sports trips were a saving grace and peace and quiet was abundant.

Because I was confident in who I was I didn’t mind the extra time to paint, hang with friends, chick flick marathons, and I loved the til-4am life conversations we would get into when we met back at home. We balanced well.

Enter Parenthood.

Glenn and I didn’t have easy births of our two gorgeous children…one highlighted my mortality on the delivery table – the other almost caused it.

At home I was dealing with all things baby, a weakening sense of independence and a hero who needed less noise. Shift work became the avenue of never ending work. In the earlier years, I was still working at the 911 centre and there was plenty of high-fiving-at-the-door as the other parent traded pressed uniforms for puke-booger covered shirts with I-haven’t-showered-in-3-days smell.

Before we knew it…no, let’s be honest, we knew it: outside the family became our escape. And the high fives turned into fingers of the single digit as the Parent watched the Hero go to work.

And then I found my Why. I wasn’t OK watching our family disintegrate and knew that the man I married was still there… I just needed to find him.

I was always fortunate that I never took the side effects of police work personally. I knew when  we were in the middle of a full on shouting match and he would answer his on-call phone with a smile and sweetness I rarely saw – it wasn’t about me. He wasn’t “on” at work to get back at me, he was “on” because that’s what Heroes do.

I did know that I wasn’t finding my husband again while on shift…it wasn’t happening when we shared the same 10-code world.  Hence my escape from shift work. I was lucky enough to be a speaker for the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund and then started my own business in order to carve the space that my Hero at Home needed.

Our story only has room for 1 shift worker. 

Is it all roses? No. There are missed assemblies, child care nightmares, loud shushes while he tries to get 5 consecutive hours of sleep in, traditional role arguments, cold sides of the bed, and more.

But I do see his smile more – not the “on” smile…but his. I see when the Hero turns on as he gets ready to step out the door to work – so that he has the strength to build leaders, protect the streets AND to make it back home safe and sound where he always knows it’s a great place to land.

Jody and family

L ro R: Aila, Glenn, Gerald & Jody

Jody Laird is a financial educator and public speaker. Jody  delivers workplace safety presentations for the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund and is a financial advisor for World Financial Group. To find out more, please visit her on LinkedIn. Jody lives in Airdrie, Alberta with her husband, Glenn, and their two children, Aila and Gerald.

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For further information about the Mothering Matters blog series, here is the link.

If you would like to receive the Mothering Matters blogs (every Monday from May 2nd through to July 4th, 2016) and/or read the other blogs, please click here.