ALLISTON – For nearly a decade, Orillia resident Christine Johnstone has been helping residents discover a new appreciation for the province’s policing past.
Johnstone, curator of the OPP Museum in Orillia, said most people don’t know how rich the organization's history really is.
She noted that the force was established 107 years ago to help deal with issues along the province's borders, and to establish order near mining operations in the north.
“The OPP was the one that rose to the challenge while the RCMP stayed in other provinces, so it is interesting to look at all the factors of why that happened,” she said.
Johnstone’s contributions to the OPP were recognized Monday (Oct. 3) at the organization’s Accolade Awards held at the Nottawasaga Inn Resort in Alliston, where she was named civilian of the year.
Her career has been filled with many highlights, including fostering a cooperative relationship called the Friends of the OPP Museum, and helping to secure many important exhibits, such as the digital photo collection and the OPP’s first patrol boat.
While humbled to receive the accolade, Johnstone said the real reward has always been in her work.
“Every day is different,” she said. “Some days you’re writing speeches or doing research, and others you’re delving into the history of someone who served 80 years ago, and then maybe after that you’re working with the canine unit to celebrate their 15th anniversary…so every day has been a learning experience,” she said.
Thirteen awards were handed out at this year’s ceremony to honour teams or individuals who work in uniform, civilian or auxiliary units.
OPP Commissioner Vince Hawkes, who gave the opening address at the ceremony, noted there were a total of 89 submissions for this year’s award program.
“All of the people receiving an award care a great deal about this organization and the challenging jobs that they do,” he said. “The OPP is a proud service and its pride is based on the great work that so many of our members do to protect our public safety mandate.”
Other awards handed out during the ceremony included officer of the year and auxiliary member of the year.
Achievements were also recognized in enforcement, investigation, innovation, community service and partnerships.
A number of officers stationed in Orillia were also lauded for their involvement in two homicide investigations and Project Kirby, which focused on the importation and sale of illegal firearms between the U.S. and Ontario.
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