Tikinagan staff members receive OPP commendation
Mike Lawrence - Staff Writer
Two Tikinagan Child & Family Services staff members have been recognized for their years of volunteer service in helping keep youth and adults safe in Pikangikum First Nation.
Whyderman Black and Julie Suggashie both received the Commissioner’s Commendation from the Ontario Provincial Police’s Commissioner, Thomas Carrique.
Black and Suggashie both expressed surprise at receiving the commendation.
Black, who is the Direct Services Supervisor for Tikinagan in Pikangikum stated, “It’s an honour to receive this.” He added, “I wasn’t expecting it, so it was kind of a surprised when I was told about this.”
Suggashie, acting Direct Services Supervisor at Tikinagan, commented, “I never received anything like this before… it was an honour to receive it.”
The pair were presented the commendation in recognition of their community support and assistance to the OPP, the Pikangikum Police, and the community peacekeeping service in urgent missing persons investigations over the years. These incidents, many of which were critical in nature, made the guidance they provided vital in the resolution of these situations.
Commissioner Carrique shared, “I am proud to have awarded Whyderman Black and Julie Suggashie with a Commissioner’s Commendation for Selfless Actions.” He further commented, “They have assisted Pikangikum Police and the OPP in locating and saving the lives of several suicidal youth in Pikangikum, and in many instances their assistance was critical to achieving a positive outcome. The relationships we build with community members are invaluable to the OPP.”
Both Black and Suggashie have a history of community involvement that began well before they began working with Tikinagan. Black indicated he has been coordinating searches for years to keep youth and adults safe, while Suggashie started off as a youth patrol coordinator almost a decade before Tikinagan to ensure youth were safe at night.
“Helping out in my community was a big step in stepping up and assisting,” Black said, explaining, “I’ve been doing it for years. Usually, I get calls from OPP that they need help with a certain person. I coordinate the searches, finding out who they are in contact with last and where they were last seen.”
“I wanted to send a message to all the youth,” said Black. “It is important to save a life and to let them know that the person is there to help them.”
Suggashie added, “This (commendation) is about showing the youth that we care for them and that they can look at us as role models. Thereᶩs actually people out there that really care about them. They can come to us and we can talk to them one-on-one and support them.”
Both Black and Suggashie have worked for Tikinagan for a total of six years.