The Vancouver Police Aboriginal Cadet program began in 2007, a summer employment initiative for Aboriginal youth aged 19 to 29 to learn about policing firsthand by riding with police officers on patrol and working with specialty squads.
“The VPD feels that Aboriginal Cadet Program is an important tool used to reach out to those Aboriginal youth who have an interest in policing and offer them an opportunity to experience the life of a police constable,” says Detective Constable Corinne Allan, VPD Recruiting. “The ultimate goal is to identify prospective applicants, and while some may not persevere in the process, at least they will have the experience to help make that decision.”
Of the 13 cadets that have graduated from the program, two have already become police officers and several more are in the recruiting process.
Derek Thorp was born and raised in Langley. He graduated with honours from Walnut Grove High School in 2008 and continued his studies at Kwantlen Polytechnic University and Vancouver Community College. When he learned of the Aboriginal Cadet Program with the VPD, he was thankful his Metis heritage qualified him to apply for a position. Having been a successful candidate, Derek is enjoying learning about the VPD and hopes to one day join the force.
Tyler Saunders is a 21 year old student also residing in Langley. He is working toward an Associate of Arts Degree in Criminology at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, and aspires to one day become a VPD officer. Tyler, who is of Cree heritage, heard about the VPD Aboriginal Cadet Program from his friend Derek Thorp who is also in the program. “Being a part of the VPD family is important to me. I want to make a difference in society by being a positive role model through helping the community and protecting its citizens.”
Greg Bergquist was born and raised in White Rock, where he volunteered many hours with community groups like Venturers, Scouts and DeMolay. He always had a passion for cars and an interest in policing. As a young adult, Greg operated his own automotive restoration company. Since then, his interest in policing has been re-ignited. In his late 20s, he discovered his Métis heritage, which became a catalyst for Greg’s involvement with the VPD’s Aboriginal Cadet Program. “I hope to have a long career in law enforcement somewhere in the Lower Mainland,” says Bergquist.
The program is funded by the Aboriginal Community Career Employment Services Society (A.C.C.E.S.S.), which provides employment and training initiatives. “Our mission is to inspire, nurture and encourage urban Aboriginal people on their journey to success,” says Blair Bellerose, Director of Employment Services.
“The VPD could not run this program without the valuable assistance from A.C.C.E.S.S.,” says Detective Constable Allan.
There are presently 21 Aboriginal officers in the Vancouver Police Department, 13 of which are men and eight are women.
To find out more about the VPD Aboriginal Cadet Program, contact the VPD Recruiting Section at 604-717-2706.