This one isn’t about my kids. I figured you likely need a break from them. I know I sure could use a break from them but that’s another story for another day.
Like last week’s column, however, this one also begins at the parade. Well, actually I’m wrong. It begins at the end of it.
As we were leaving the event, I mentioned that we hadn’t seen any police in the procession, but then I remembered the Mountie in red serge riding a horse.
This week I learned that the officer was Const. Erin Stevenson. She’d been riding her friend Paula Leweke’s horse, Max.
They took a break afterwards. At the Tim Horton’s drive-thru. How Canadian is that? That’s the novel part of the story. It’s cute and makes you smile and perhaps even makes you love being in this country but that’s not what I wanted to write about. That’s just a bonus.
I wanted to write about how cool Const. Stevenson is. No joke.
Not only does she represent the RCMP, carry a gun and chase criminals — three inherently dangerous things, in my opinion — she’s also an Island-grown equestrian hoping to combine her career and her passion one day soon.
Stevenson wants to become a member of the RCMP’s famed Musical Ride. Odds are good that she’ll get there, but for now, she’s busting her you-know-what to make a difference in this community.
“Seeing what she’s done here, I’d be very surprised if she’s not part of the Musical Ride within the next few years, and good for her,” said North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring. “What really struck me about this is I had no idea how much personal time and passion and money and everything else she invested by herself,” he added. “I thought it was just a mounted police officer but it’s a whole lot more than that.”
Stevenson doesn’t even have a horse of her own in Duncan. She borrows Max from Leweke in Victoria. The loan comes at her own expense as Stevenson trailers the animal to where they need to be and even pays for extra insurance when she appears in public on the horse.
While it’s her own initiative, Stevenson’s activities are still sanctioned by the RCMP. To get that approval, she had to go right to the top in the B.C. RCMP hierarchy.
You know how hard it is to get a police officer on the phone, right? Imagine trying to get up the chain to the provincial bosses! It must have taken a lot of time and energy to gain that approval.
I think that’s so cool that she’d do that all in the name of community engagement. The North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP detachment’s awards and recognition committee must agree with me as it recently recognized her. There’s no big trophy or party to go with the accolade, but there is a special memento, the “Challenge Coin”.
“I am extremely proud of her and her dedication to the community,” said Insp. Chris Bear, officer in charge of the detachment. “She is eagerly awaiting her opportunity for the Musical Ride and maintaining her equestrian skills while bringing the iconic RCMP Horse and Rider to the Cowichan Valley. Everyone loves to see Erin and Max!”
Last week Stevenson was presented with her coin in front of the detachment in somewhat of a surprise ceremony. Mayor Siebring, Duncan councillor Stacey Middlemiss, Insp. Bear, and S/Sgt Rob Webb of RCMP Island District HQ all attended.
“It was an honour to meet this incredible officer,” Siebring said. “We could use many more like her.”
Not accustomed to the fanfare, Stevenson did open up a bit about her efforts.
“I just like putting a smile on people’s faces and changing people’s perspectives,” she said. “RCMP always kind of are seen with a negative perspective. I want to improve that and to put a positive image out in any aspect that I can. But it’s nice to be recognized for all the work.”
She couldn’t have done it without Max, though.
“He’s a rock star of a horse,” she said. “He’s the nicest, sweetest horse anyone can have.”
For photos of Stevenson at the drive-thru, as well as her ceremony and honour, check out this column online on Saturday afternoon.