Three years into her career with Greater Sudbury Police Service, Const. Anik Dennie has become an early leader in her field, earning Rookie of the Year from Blue Line Magazine.
While grateful, she said it feels a bit strange to receive an award for work done within a team environment.
“It's not me, it’s a team,” she told Sudbury.com, adding that this applies to all of her work, “whether it's on a call or within the station. It's kind of weird getting an award for something that so many people worked on.”
Dennie was given the prestigious award through an unanimous vote by a three-member panel of judges appointed by the magazine. She was nominated by GSPS Const. Darryl Rivers.
“It takes different people time to find their voice, and Anik already came to the service, and she had already found it,” Rivers told Sudbury.com, adding that her voice has been advocating for Indigenous voices and for greater cultural awareness with the police service.
Dennie has been involved in the Mooz Atkinoonmaaget Maa Aki (Moose Who Teaches Land Survival), she participates in an Intercultural Ride Along program and helped develop and organize last year’s inaugural GSPS Relay for Reconciliation.
The relay saw participating police officers read the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s 94 Calls to Action, with each member selecting one to reflect on how they can implement it in their daily lives.
Although Dennie has found her place within GSPS, her professional life wasn’t a straight line toward policing, having earned a bachelor’s degree in health promotion and a master’s degree in human kinetics before becoming a sworn member.
She worked in health promotion for a while before realizing it wasn’t the right fit.
“Although I love the job, the desk aspect wasn't for me, and there wasn't enough diversity in what I was doing,” she said, adding that every day has been different since joining GSPS.
She started out by volunteering with the GSPS authentic inclusion committee, which spurred enough interest in policing for her to become a special constable in January 2020. She went on to police college and was sworn in as a member on June 21, 2021.
Despite shifting careers toward policing, she said her education in health promotion has transferred smoothly toward policing.
“I was taught a lot about the social determinants of health and the concept of privilege in a community and just looking at how a lot of things are preventative, which is the goal of health promotion,” she said, adding there are various proactive things police can do to deter crime.
Dennie is Métis, her partner is Anishnaabe-kwe, and she said furthering understanding around Truth and Reconciliation has been important to her, and well-received at GSPS.
“Knowing that you're part of an organization where there's people that are going to support you ... that's awesome,” she said. “That continues to motivate me to come to work and I love it here.
“I'm trying to create a space where their voices can be heard. Through that is education of others so that they have an understanding so that when other people speak they know to listen.”
Working as a mentor for the annual moose hunt was particularly rewarding, she said, and helped build relationships with youths she expects to see last.
“When they started, it was very negative with the police,” she said of the youths. “Then, when it ended, they're like, ‘Yeah, I want to become a police officer.’ So just knowing that creates that sense of safety. That doesn’t mean erasing what happened in the past. You have to acknowledge what happened in the past in order to build stronger relationships in the future.”
The GSPS Relay for Reconciliation is slated to become annual this year, with another such event planned for this September, which Rivers said will expand on last year’s effort.
In a Blue Line Magazine story about Dennie, GSPS Chief Paul Pedersen said, “In her short time as an officer, she has made a tremendous impact on all those she works with as well as having a positive impact on the community she polices.”
“Over the past two years during the global pandemic, rookies have gone above and beyond in their roles as police officers,” Blue Line Magazine wrote on their website. “They started their careers in a tumultuous time, and still show up day after day ready to serve their communities.”
The panel of judges that chose Dennie as Rookie of the Year included former Calgary Police Service Chief Christine Silverberg, former RCMP member PEter German and retired York Regional Police Chief Armand La Barge.
Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.