Denis Schryburt started the meeting, but Gary Leger finished it.
The Ottawa Police Service’s GLBT liaison committee held its annual general meeting (AGM) on Jan 20 at police headquarters on Elgin Street. Schryburt, who stepped down as community co-chair because he’s running for city council, chaired the beginning of the meeting, but Leger took over once he was voted in as the new community co-chair.
Police Inspector Joan McKenna also stepped down as police co-chair to focus on leading Ottawa Police Chief Charles Bordeleau’s violence-against-women initiative. The new police co-chair has not yet been chosen, but Leger says he hopes the position will be filled in time for the liaison committee’s next meeting.
Before the AGM began, Bordeleau stopped by to praise Schryburt and McKenna for their work as co-chairs over the years. The police chief gave each of them a plaque for their service to the committee and commended them for their willingness to have difficult conversations and their ability to engage the community.
When the meeting’s agenda turned to community concerns, Luke Smith, the committee coordinator, raised the issue of vandalism to the office of Algonquin College’s Queer Student Alliance (QSA).
“It sounds like there’s a need for a bit of outreach with these smaller groups and smaller schools,” said Jodie McNamara, chair of Capital Pride. “I don’t feel like the students are being adequately included in the conversation.”
Ottawa police flagged the vandalism as a hate crime, but with no suspects there was nothing they could do to further the investigation. Campus security told Xtra the vandalism is “minor property mischief” and “a crime of opportunity” because the QSA office door was not properly secured. The door has since been fixed and campus security says the case remains open.
Smith offered to go speak to the Algonquin QSA to let them know about the liaison committee’s work and to make sure students know they’re always welcome to attend liaison committee meetings to discuss any concerns they have.
While summarizing the events and issues of 2013, Schryburt noted the Capital Pride (CP) parade had the largest ever number of police personnel marching, including the chief.
Leger praised McKenna for her role in helping to repair the relationship between police and Dyke March organizers and participants.
“It just goes to show if you bring everybody to a table and sit down and discuss it . . . we leave with a better perspective of things and we all know where we’re coming from,” Leger said.
Once attendees voted Leger in as community co-chair, a second vote was held to determine who would take his place as vice-chair. Todd Lagrois, an Ottawa native, is the new community vice-chair.
“I'm very passionate about LGBT issues, which is why I wanted to get the position of community vice-chair,” says Lagrois, who’s been involved with the committee for two years. He says he’s looking forward to working with Leger to implement the committee’s strategic plan.
For Leger, outreach and cooperation will be the focus for the year ahead.
“We’re very well represented from a service-provider standpoint at the table, which is fantastic, but this year we’ll really be connecting with people who’ve left the table and find out why,” he says. “We want to reconnect with them and get the message out that we’re here.”
Findings of the November 2013 youth roundtable will be presented at next month’s meeting.
“We really want the youth component of our community to work on some of the changes that they’ve brought forward,” Leger says. “I think they’ve brought some fantastic changes forward, so it will be a good thing that they’ll be able to participate. That was the big thing — they want to participate.”
The GLBT liaison committee’s next meeting is Mon, Feb 24, 5:35pm at OPS headquarters, 474 Elgin St.