Stories of Determination: Burnaby RCMP celebrates Asian Heritage Month
Burnaby, This Is Who We Are
2023-05-24 09:37 PDT
May is Asian Heritage Month in Canada, a time to celebrate and acknowledge the achievements and contributions of Asian communities. This year, the theme is
Stories of Determination.
Burnaby RCMP is proud to have a diverse workforce, which includes employees from many different cultural backgrounds. Having a staff that reflects our community makes our organization stronger and helps us better serve Burnaby. This includes a wide range of languages spoken by both police officers and municipal staff.
Unfortunately, like many communities, Burnaby saw a rise in hate crimes and hate incidents targeting the Asian community throughout the pandemic. While the number of reported incidents has decreased, hate incidents continue to cause fear and unease in many communities.
On May 17, 2023, the BC RCMP hosted an Asian Hate Awareness forum in Burnaby along with several partners, including the Burnaby RCMP, to discuss the issue and impacts of anti-Asian hate and to explore solutions as a community. The event was part of Victims and Survivors of Crime Week.
To further efforts internally, Burnaby RCMP launched an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) committee in 2021. This committee draws on the diverse perspectives, experiences, lifestyles, and cultures of our staff to help identify and remove barriers and enhance the overall work environment for all employees.
As part of Asian Heritage Month, Burnaby RCMP is highlighting the experiences of some of our staff members:
Cst. Michael Au
Community Response Team (CRT)
Years with the RCMP: 13
Years with the Burnaby RCMP: 13
Additional languages spoken: Tagalog, Cantonese, Spanish, Fukien, Mandarin
Q: What was your experience like coming to Canada?
A: I came to Canada in 1994, when I was 16-years-old. Initially, I had reservations about living in Canada as all my friends were in the Philippines. I also knew there would be a change in lifestyle, as different countries have different ways of doing things. I felt uncertain about my future moving to a different country, as I was in the process of enrolling at a prestigious University in the Philippines and had a career lined up when I finished University. Eventually, things worked out for me here in Canada. Through hard work and careful planning, I managed to work in several interesting jobs (including at Vancouver International Airport, Canada Post, a pharmacy, and an armoured truck company) before joining the RCMP, where I continue to have enjoyable and interesting experiences.
Q: How have your language skills assisted you while working for Burnaby RCMP?
A: Over the years, I have assisted several units in Burnaby and other detachments in BC with my language skills. The experiences vary, but using my language skills I have conducted warned interviews with foreign nationals that were charged with importing a container full of drugs into ports, conducted warned interviews with persons charged with sexual interference, and used my language skills to speak with grieving families who have lost a loved one, providing a degree of comfort for them.
Staff Sergeant Major David Douangchanh
Executive NCO to the Officer in Charge
Years with the RCMP: 19
Years with Burnaby RCMP: 2
Additional languages spoken: Laotian, Thai
Q: What was your family’s experience like coming to Canada?
A: My family’s experience is likely very similar to many others who have immigrated to Canada. My parents left Laos to seek a better life for their family and had the opportunity to come to Canada after first seeking refuge in Thailand. When they arrived in Canada they struggled with many challenges, including not understanding or having the ability to speak English. My parents had to overcome obstacle after obstacle to be able to provide for their family, for which I’m forever grateful.
Q: What kind of experiences have you had with racism and discrimination?
A: As a police officer, I’ve experienced racism and discrimination from the public when dealing with many situations. I’ve been called pretty much every derogatory name associated to most of the countries from Asia. As a police officer, you have to set your emotions aside and maintain your composure and professionalism. Police officers may wear a uniform but remember, we’re also human.
Q: The theme of Asian Heritage Month this year is
Stories of Determination, is there anything from your own life or career that you would like to share which reflects that theme?
A: When I reflect back from my beginnings to where I am now, I can honestly say that my determination and drive came from my family, specifically my parents. My parents showed me each and every day what hard work, perseverance, and determination looked like. Sacrificing everything they had to come to a new country and being determined to succeed so their family could have a better opportunity in life is what makes me so grateful to have been born in Canada. It’s their sacrifice and determination that drives me to do what I can for our communities and our people.
Cst. Khanh Tran
General Duty, A Watch
Years with the RCMP: 5
Years with the Burnaby RCMP: 5
Additional languages spoken: Vietnamese
Q: What was your family’s experience like coming to Canada?
A: Both of my parents came to Canada in 1982 as refugees from Vietnam after the war ended. Having left good careers and all their family behind, they both chose to make Canada their new home. Because of the amazing support from the community they lived in, they were able to start a rewarding new career together and help contribute to the Canadian society that helped them become established.
Q: What drew you to a career in policing?
A: My father was an army officer in the Vietnamese military. Although he had to leave his career behind when he fled the country after the war, I grew up with my father telling me amazing stories about his service in the military. My father inspired me to choose a career that gives back to the community and the country that helped my parents through tough times. I wanted to pave the way for new generations of Vietnamese, especially women, to show them that a career in policing is obtainable and rewarding. The RCMP has allowed me to develop specialty skills and provided me opportunities to travel throughout the country in service to Canadians. I can definitely say this career has been rewarding so far.
Quality Assurance Reader
Years with Burnaby RCMP/City of Burnaby: 8 years
Additional languages spoken: Mandarin, Taiwanese
Q: What drew you to join Burnaby RCMP’s EDI committee?
A: Workplace culture. I am passionate about anything mental and physical wellbeing-related and workplace culture plays a role into that. I see our organization as one big family so when the opportunity presented to be apart of a committee to foster stronger diversity, equity and inclusion, it was a no brainer. I also sit on the RCMP’s Wellness Committee and City of Burnaby’s Promise Working Group (driving positive workplace change).
Q: What experiences have you had with racism and discrimination?
A: As an Asian Canadian, I’ve experienced my share of racism and discrimination both growing up, and in adulthood. I don’t let it bother me too much. Racism is a multifaceted issue and it creates divide. While some aspects of racism will take time to change, as individuals let’s challenge ourselves to be more respectful, kind, and compassionate to one another.
Q: How does your background/culture/upbringing help you in your role?
A: When I assist with Front Counter or Community Police Office services, there are times when a member of the public from the Asian community may attend wanting to report a crime but speak limited English. Initially they might present as uneasy due to language and cultural barriers, but when they see that I resemble their ethnic background and that I can communicate with them in their native tongue, it helps build connection and alleviates some of those concerns, ultimately allowing me to provide that positive initial interaction.
Cpl. Michael KalanjMedia Relations Officer
6355 Deer Lake Avenue, Burnaby, BC, V5G 2J2
Website: burnaby.rcmp-grc.gc.ca (English only)
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