Oak Bay Police Const. Jennifer Gibbs was honoured recently in a drum ceremony for her past work and dedication to at-risk youth.
Surrounded by Cedar and the Native Friendship Centre presented Gibbs with a drum painted with a mother bear and cubs, symbolizing the position Gibbs held as the Mobile Youth Service Team (MYST) constable and her role in caring for the community youth.
“To be honoured by Surrounded by Cedar and everybody in that community was such an honour,” said Gibbs. “They did a drum ceremony and sang songs. It was very powerful and moving. I was quite touched.”
My former work partner Cst Jennifer Gibbs of @OakBayPolice was honoured for her past work with youth in the integrated MYST position with a drum from Surrounded By Cedar! Way to go Jen! #MYST #youthwork #endexploitation #yyj pic.twitter.com/gtyhkfHT2i
— Mia Golden (@GoldenJamaican) January 27, 2018
Surrounded by Cedar Child and Family Services is an Aboriginal agency providing services that are rooted in cultural values and beliefs to enhance the strength and resiliency in the urban Aboriginal community. Gibbs worked closely with the agency in her time working with MYST.
The social workers or probation officers at Surrounded by Cedar would call Gibbs if they had a child that was at risk or if there was suspicion of a youth being sexually exploited. Gibbs would take the youth out, get to know them, and be there to support them. If they were in the criminal justice system, Gibbs would help them through that process and be with them on their court dates.
Gibbs said it was about “letting youth know that the police actually care and are there to help them.”
“I have a real passion for the hurting youth in our community. When you are able to help them and actually make a difference, it’s amazing,” said Gibbs.
The drum presented to Gibbs was made by Gordy Bear who works at Surrounded by Cedar and was painted by Bradley Dick, an artist who is the husband of one of the social workers there.
Gibbs was seconded as the MYST constable for three years, which is the typical length of secondment on the integrated unit before returning to patrol.
“I loved it. It’s something I wish I was still doing,” said Gibbs.
Gibbs is now seconded to another integrated unit, the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team, and Central Saanich police Cpl. Pat Bryant is the new MYST officer.
MYST was created 18 years ago to address the issues of at-risk and sexually exploited youth between the ages of 12 to 18 years in the Capital Regional District. According to Gibbs, it started with about six members and is now down to one, due to budget and priorities.
Congratulations Cst. Gibbs – richly deserved honour – you did amazing work at MYST. We join with others in thanking you and recognizing your achievement and community contribution.
— Nils Jensen (@MayorNils) February 3, 2018
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