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By: Lynn Curwin
Atlantic Women in Law Enforcement conference held in Truro
TRURO – Women in law enforcement face different challenges than men and bring to the job different strengths. These factors play a large role during the Atlantic Women in Law Enforcement Conference.
Held over four days at the Holiday Inn, the theme of the conference was “Staying Strong and Carrying On.”
“The committee chose the theme last year,” said Sgt. Carolyn Nichols, AWLE president and member of the Halifax Regional Police. “Catherine Campbell was on the committee and with what happened to her the theme took on a whole new meaning to all of us. We had worked quite closely with her so the theme became even more relevant.”
Campbell, a Truro police officer, was murdered in September while off duty. A Halifax man has been charged with second-degree murder and faces another charge of indecently interfering with a dead body.
Topics discussed at the conference included social media, forensic psychology, criminal investigations and intelligence gathering and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The keynote speaker was Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire.
“He is a very captivating speaker, very personable and honest,” said Nichols. “I think everyone hung on every word. He talked about his child soldier initiative and about PTSD. He stressed the importance of asking for help when you need it.”
After retiring Dallaire founded The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative in an effort to help end the recruitment and use of child soldiers globally. He also helped reform assistance for Canadian Forces’ veterans affected by PTSD, from which he suffered.
About 95 women from various law enforcement agencies across Atlantic Canada gathered for the conference. The event began with only police but grew to include other agencies.
“The greatest thing about coming to this is the feeling of connection with other women in law enforcement,” said Nichols. “We talk about the issues and there’s networking. It provides a forum for woman to come together and talk about making changes in the work place.”
Nichols’ aunt is a retired police officer who expressed the importance of women supporting women. Nichols became a police officer in 1999 and attended her first conference in 2000.
AWLE became an affiliate of the International Association of Women Police in 2003 and last year two Nova Scotia officers won international awards. Cpl. Charla Keddy, RCMP H Division, won officer of the year and Sgt Nancy Rudback, Halifax Regional Police, was presented with the mentoring award.
The 23rd annual AWLE conference was co-hosted by the Truro Police Service, Colchester County District RCMP, Nova Institution for Women and Correctional Service of Canada.