National Public Safety Award winners 2024

USJE’s National Public Safety Awards recognize and celebrate the outstanding work undertaken by our members across the country. Too often, the crucial work of USJE members happens behind the scenes, out of sight of many Canadians who depend on the commitment and dedication of federal public safety and justice employees to keep them safe.

At an awards ceremony on April 9, 2024, seven USJE members took centre stage in Ottawa to represent our union and the hard work our members accomplish. We applaud their dedication to their colleagues, their communities, and to their fellow Canadians, and we thank them for going to extraordinary lengths every day in their jobs in order to keep all of us safe.

Jodi Tolley

RCMP, Alberta

Jodi Tolley currently serves as the only Detachment Services Assistant at the RCMP Detachment in Raymond, Southern Alberta.
In her capacity as a DSA, Jodi is constantly being called upon by other Detachments to help train new employees and fill crucial gaps. As a consequence, she regularly travels long distances from her home detachment on short notice. During the Covid pandemic, Jodi went above and beyond time and again as she sought to support RCMP Detachments across the region adjust to the realities of the pandemic and reduce the risk of exposure while keeping Albertans safe. Further, Jodi stepped up to support the RCMP during the difficult days of the Coutts Border convoy blockade which required an ‘all hands on deck’ approach for a few days. Jodi’s leadership is also evident in her commitment to hosting monthly dinner meetings for her fellow DSAs in Southern Alberta. DSAs in this part of Canada serve many rural and remote locations and, as such, they are often the lone support staff in the office, working in environments that are quite isolated. These networking dinners provide a critical gathering space where this largely female network can discuss issues and everyday concerns that otherwise might go unaddressed.

Most importantly, Jodi always has a sincere smile and a kind word for all those she serves in this key public safety role, even on the most stressful of days. Her dedication and commitment to ensuring that rural detachments in Southern Alberta run smoothly make her an unsung hero who just quietly gets the job done. With people like Jodi Tolley working hard each and every day, the public safety of Canadians is in good hands.

Sean Hickey

CSC Community Parole, Newfoundland and Labrador

Sean Hickey has dedicated his career to advancing public safety. As a seasoned federal public safety employee, Sean often goes above and beyond as one of just a handful of Parole Officers on the vast Avalon Peninsula in Newfoundland. Equally important, he is also a mainstay within his community and is respected and cherished by his co-workers who see in him a crucial resource for support and guidance.

In his capacity as a federal Parole Officer, Sean also serves as a member of the Criminal Intelligence Service Newfoundland Labrador (CISNL) Committee. To strengthen the Committee’s efficacy, Sean provides daily updates to staff, stakeholders, and third parties on the status of federal offenders and other inmates, gang associations, and potential dangers to public safety, including absconded individuals from the Newfoundland Community Correctional Centre and NL Community Residential Facilities. These contributions go beyond the core duties of a Parole Officer and are often made during Sean’s personal time given the already heavy workload of a federal Parole Officer. Finally, Sean has been recognized for his role in providing crucial peer support during the process of Critical Incident Stress Management (CISMS) debriefs. CISMs are undertaken when there has been a serious threat to the safety of federal public safety personnel, those they are supervising or the general public at large. CISMs reduce the long term risk of a mental health injury among federal public safety personnel.

Given Sean’s history of excellence as a federal Parole Officer, his activism in support of public safety and his leadership in the community, Sean embodies the true spirit of this National Public Safety Award and is a extremely deserving recipient.

Stephanie Dawe

RCMP, Labrador

Stephanie Dawe has worked in the justice system for over a decade. She initially spent 6 years supporting the operations of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Provincial Court and is now in her 7th year as a Detachment Services Assistant with the Happy Valley-Goose Bay RCMP Detachment in Labrador.

Additionally, Stephanie is the Volunteer President of the Local Ground Search and Rescue Team (GSAR).

GSAR members are on-call 24/7 and are always ‘on the ready’ in the event of a lost or missing person. Labrador’s unforgiving climate and wilderness call for GSAR members like Stephanie to train for many types of rescues – ice rescue, lost snowmobilers, boat rescues and land searches. Stephanie supports the fulfillment of the high training standards that are necessary to ensure that newly formed GSAR teams throughout Labrador are equipped to do their job in the event of an emergency.

As an active participant/volunteer of the local Ground Search and Rescue Team, Stephanie works closely with the relevant members of the RCMP to deploy the GSAR team when required. The local search and rescue team must work in tandem with the RCMP to ensure missing or lost people are returned safely to their families. Stephanie has been involved in many difficult search and rescue missions over the years. Some missions last for days and take place in remarkably hostile conditions.

On top of her direct role in search and rescue missions, Stephanie is also involved in fundraising efforts for the purchase of new equipment for the GSAR team, from making Smile Cookies at Tim Horton’s to securing grants available from various organizations.

Stephanie is also the first candidate in Labrador to be awarded the SARVAC GSAR National Searcher Certification.

Finally, Stephanie has also been a strong mental health advocate for members of the search and rescue team, recognizing that the toll on those actively involved in a search can be extreme and recovering from a difficult mission is not always easy. Stehpanie is also a member of the local Crime Prevention Committee and serves as the Red Cross representative, both of which take countless volunteer hours and unwavering commitment.

In summary, Stephanie’s dedication to the public safety of Labradorians is truly outstanding and knows no bounds. She is the epitome of hard work, enthusiasm and courage and is a very deserving recipient of this National Public Safety Award.

Wayne Hirlehey

Public Safety Canada, Pacific

Wayne has been the Public Safety Canada (PS) liaison officer to Emergency Management and Climate Readiness (EMCR) British-Columbia in the Provincial Emergency Coordination Centre throughout his 20 years with Public Safety. He has ensured the transmission of crucial ‘situational information’ to all federal departments and the Government Operations Centre during several disasters. In particular, Wayne was instrumental in facilitating the deployment of federal resources in BC and Yukon for the floods of 2007, the floods and wildfires of 2017 & 2018, during the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the unprecedented atmospheric river of 2021 and the historic wildfires of 2021 and 2023.

Wayne has also been key in contributing to a diversity of emergency preparedness exercises, including TRANSGUARD 1 in 2008/9 as part of the 2010 Olympics exercise program, the Canadian Coast Guard’s Exercise Salish Sea, and Operation NANOOK-TATIGIIT in the Yukon. He also played a pivotal role in the design and delivery of the national priority Exercise Coastal Response 2023 designed to practice response to an earthquake. He worked with EMCR and Government Operations Centre Exercise Program to plan the federal component of that exercise.

Further, Wayne has mentored and trained his colleagues on various aspects of emergency management. He created the “Emergency Preparedness Workshop” for all federal employees. He also wrote the Public Safety Pacific Region Emergency Management Concept of Operations and the Federal Coordination Centre Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). These tools have become the foundation for Public Safety’s emergency response to floods, fires, atmospheric rivers, marine pollution events, and a multitude of emergency situations.

Additionally, Wayne has chaired the Pacific Federal Coordination Working Group, transforming this group from a simple information sharing forum into an operational readiness working group by creating training, planning, and exercising sub-committees.

Wayne’s deep knowledge of emergency preparedness is, in part, derived from his own experience while deployed to assist his PS associates in the Prairie Region. In 2019, Wayne was redeployed from a wildfire exercise in the Yukon to assist the Alberta Regional Office during the devastating wildfire season that year. Wayne was also previously deployed to support the Manitoba Regional Office responding to the destructive flooding in 2014.

Being stationed near the provincial emergency coordination center, Wayne is often the first federal employee to arrive on-site to represent all federal government emergency management agencies and support provincial response efforts.

It goes without saying that British-Columbia and the Pacific region are immensely safer on account of Wayne Hirlehey’s expertise in emergency preparedness, firsthand contributions and dedication to the field.

Thomas Eischen

CSC Community Parole, Winnipeg

Thomas Eischen is from Little Grand Rapids First Nation in Manitoba. He has worked for the federal Correctional Service (Community) in Winnipeg for 20 years and has served various positions in the Service, assisting federal offenders and parolees who are reintegrating back into the community.

Thomas has worked with a variety of Indigenous communities and organizations, particularly in partnerships through special funding agreements. Thomas is strongly committed to improving the Service by making it more efficient, inclusive and better adapted to the needs and expectations of Indigenous peoples.

Thomas has also actively worked with a number of Indigenous communities to facilitate the reintegration of federal offenders. As a native speaker of Ojibway, Thomas’ use of the language has had an overwhelmingly positive impact on his capacity to build relationships and support rehabilitative outcomes of hundreds of Indigenous individuals. His knowledge of Anishinabe and Cree cultural norms not only instills trust, it also elicits great respect from his colleagues who admire Thomas’ knowledge, respect and commitment to honouring Indigenous cultures.

Thomas has collaborated with a range of justice committees to help streamline resources and better identify the needs of Indigenous offenders. Thomas is steadfast in ensuring that individuals who come into contact with the federal Correctional Service have access to crucial resources to support their reintegration and become respected members of the community.

Una Gair

CSC, Pacific

Una Gair currently works as a federal Correctional Program Officer, a role at which she excels within the Correctional Service. She has spent most of her career working with violent offenders and sex offenders, both male and female. As a widely respected and seasoned public safety professional, Una was selected to contribute to the oversight of the Correctional Service’s Structured Intervention Units, both regionally and nationally.

Over the course of a decade, Una has demonstrated a strong commitment to supporting public safety outcomes and undertaking her work with much compassion and integrity. She contributes to the well-being of individuals under her supervision but also plays a vital role in enhancing the overall effectiveness of offender rehabilitation programs and enhancing public safety.

Una’s proactive approach has led to the apprehension of a number of offenders who had gone unlawfully at large.

Furthermore, through the course of her career, Una has played a pivotal role in creating a work environment that is both positive and impactful, greatly enhancing her colleagues’ capacity to carry out their roles in public safety and justice. As a Joint Learning Program trainer, she has delivered leading edge training across various government departments on topics including the creation of respectful workplaces, and the prevention of harassment and violence.

Una’s work as a ,ental health trainer, including as a member of the Critical Incident Stress Management team within the Correctional Service of Canada in BC , further highlights her commitment to improving workplace mental health. Her guidance and mentorship have made her a go-to person who willingly shares her knowledge and insights with staff who are undertaking interventions and supervision within the CSC as well as a wide variety of justice partners.

Additionally, Una has dedicated over a decade to actively working with a broad range of First Nations and First Nations organizations in Western Canada, developing social justice infrastructure projects that have had a profound impact on public safety and justice in these communities. Her passion, commitment and capacity to elicit tangible results in this area have been recognized with the prestigious Arctic Inspiration Award won by the House of Wolf and Associates.

Finally, on behalf of USJE, Una identified a critical gap in a key piece of federal legislation, the Government Employees Compensation Act (GECA), which oversees access to workers’ compensation benefits for federal public safety personnel. She was instrumental in creating a definition of ‘Public Safety Personnel’ to be incorporated into the GECA which would ensure that federal public safety personnel have access to workers’ compensation for mental health related injuries, just like first responders in most provinces and territories. Una became a relentless USJE champion for this cause, driving research, contributing to the draft legislation, and engaging Members of Parliament from various parties to build the necessary support for the proposed legislative changes. Her efforts culminated in the introduction of Bill C-357 into Parliament on September 20, 2023, marking a significant opportunity to protect federal public safety personnel who incur mental health injuries in the service of the public safety of Canadians. Through her dedicated work, Una has not only enriched the work environment for her peers, but has also made a significant impact on public safety and justice across Canada.

Pierre-Luc Gilbert

CSC, Québec

Pierre-Luc has been with CSC for some fifteen years. He began his career as a parole officer at the Regional Mental Health Centre (RMHC), a specialized psychiatric care unit. He then worked with the regular inmate population at the Archambault Institution. More recently, he has been working exclusively with Aboriginal inmates.

From the outset of his career at the RMHC as a parole officer, Pierre-Luc stood out for his high level of rigor, knowledge, judgment and sensitivity. He quickly became a benchmark and a source of inspiration for his colleagues. In fact, on a number of occasions, he agreed to supervise the work of his colleagues as a middle manager.

In addition to his high level of skill in ensuring the safety of Canadians and the safe reintegration of offenders into society, Pierre-Luc also stands out for his personal qualities, which make him one of the most respected employees at Archambault. His legendary calm and collected temperament, as well as his fair and impartial attitude towards all, contribute to reducing the stress of the employees he works with.