CORNWALL, Ontario – The Cornwall Police Service (CPS) has a new Chief and for the first time, that person is a woman.
In her formal address during the CPS Change of Command Ceremony, Chief Shawna Spowart highlighted the importance of representation in high office.
She recounted how her young daughter Addison told her one day how a boy in her class had said that “girls can’t be Chiefs of police.”
“Unconscious bias still exists in our community and it is being passed on to our younger generations,” said Spowart.
“If someone tells you girls can’t be Chiefs, remember today and tell them ‘yes they can,'” said Spowart at the conclusion of her address.
Spowart in her address also thanked outgoing Chief, the now retired Danny Aikman. Aikman is the CPS’ longest serving officer, having begun his career with the service in 1981, and is also the person who served the longest as Deputy Chief in the service’s history.
Aikman in fact hired Spowart when she began her career with the CPS 26-years-ago.
“I am incredibly grateful for the chance that you gave me,” she said. “Not many can say that they were promoted to Deputy Chief from Sgt. Clearly the Board saw something special in you even then.”
“You have a lot to be proud of and I am grateful for the opportunity we had to work together,” she added.
Aikman, in his brief address during the ceremony, remarked that the event was taking place in the same place that he and his wife Constance had their wedding reception, at the Ramada (formally the Holiday Inn).
“In 41 years I have had some amazing adventures and met some amazing people,” Aikman said, counting incoming Chief Spowart among them.
“I know that she has all of the characteristics to be an excellent Chief of Police,” he said.
In her address, Spowart also reaffirmed her commitment to promoting diversity, equity and inclusivity into the work of the CPS.
“I commit to continue to transform the police service into one that recognizes the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusivity,” she said. “It is a commitment to a journey that doesn’t end until we end the existence of systemic barriers in policing.”
Spowart also called on more work to be done to lower the stigma around workplace related Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD).
“We won’t be able to change the kinds of calls our officers respond to, but we can reduce the stigma around PTSD,” she said.
The ceremony was broadcast over social media, and was mostly virtual, with only a few members of the public in attendance. Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry MP Eric Duncan, his provincial counterpart MPP Jim McDonell, Mayor Glen Grant, Police Board Chair Elaine MacDonald, Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP) Executive Driector Jeff McGuire, and Canadian Senator Bernadette Clement all sent in recorded messages of congratulations to Spowart and Aikman.