Two advisors from the Whitby-based Durham police diversity comittee win Harry Jerome Awards


Published May 5, 2022 at 3:42 pm

Two diversity advisors with the Durham Regional Police have been awarded the prestigious Harry Jerome award in recognition of their achievements as part of Canada’s Black community.

The Harry Jerome awards are designed to “showcase, recognize, and honor excellence within the African-Canadian community,” according to the Black Business and Professional Association, (BBPA) the non-profit that presents the awards.

Described as “one of the premiere track athletes of his time,” Jerome was a running sensation. He set seven world-records in various sprinting competitions and earned a Bronze medal at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

Most of Jerome’s major achievements came after a nearly career ending injury in Perth, Australia. During the 1962 Commonwealth games Jerome completely severed his left quadriceps muscle.

He was not expected to be able to ever compete again, but after “months of quiet determination, physiotherapy, and courage,” Jerome returned to competition in “the greatest comeback” going on to reach the pinnacles of his career including the bronze from Tokyo and gold in the Pan American and Commonwealth Games.

Post-retirement Jerome went into teaching and worked with the Pierre Trudeau government to develop the Ministry of Sport. He also worked tirelessly for fuller rights for the Black community. In 1971 he was made an officer in the Order of Canada

“He fought to remove wage discrimination barriers against Blacks, and strove to improve mainstream Canadians’ perception of the Black community. Once he wrote to the major department stores questioning the lack of Blacks as models in their catalogues and as clerks in their stores,” said the BBPA.

“Despite his stature in the greater community, Harry never forgot about his roots or his role in bringing about positive change.”

Jerome died suddenly of a brain aneurysm at age 42 in 1982. Before his death he set to speak at a BBPA ceremony to honor the athletes of that year’s Pan Am games. The BPPA reorganized the show in light of Jerome’s passing and started the awards to celebrate people who carry his spirit forward.

The BBPA recently hosted its first ceremony in three years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the delay they handed out awards for 2020, 2021 and 2022.

Among the eleven honourees for 2020, including names like Raptors President Masai Ujiri, stood Tanya Sinclair, a human resources expert with two decades of experience renowned for her advocacy for diversity and inclusion.

The BBPA presented Sinclair the Leadership award for her work. “Congratulations to our very own Diversity Advisory Committee member Tanya Sinclair who was presented with the 2020 Leadership Award,” DRPS said in a statement.

Sinclair currently works as the director of talent management at Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly known as Ryerson) and sits on Durham Regional Police Diversity Advisory Committee.

The Diversity Advisory Committee, based out of Whitby’s police headquarters, works to “deal with challenges that impact the diverse communities of Durham Region.”

“The vision of the Diversity Advisory Committee is to enhance harmony and communication between the community and the Durham Regional Police Service in the interest of providing increased public safety,” said the Durham Police Services Board, the civilian oversight committee.

Also so honoured was David Mitchell, one of Sinclair’s colleagues on the DAC. Mitchell has spent 32 years working in justice and public safety.

He served as Regional Director of Probation Services in the Ministry of the Solicitor General and later was promoted to Assistant Deputy Minister for the Youth Justice Division within the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services.

His career had humble beginnings, first working as a unformed corrections officer and working his way up to progressively higher management roles. He now also sits as co-chair of the DAC.

“He has played a leading role in bringing together community stakeholders, including the BBPA and police leaders to identify opportunities to prevent young people from engaging in gun violence and providing them with community programs and job training,” said the BBPA.

For these efforts Mitchell was awarded the Decade Leader Award and praise from DRPS.. “Congratulations to DRPS Diversity Advisory Committee member David Mitchell who won the Decade Leader Award at the 2022 [BBPA] Harry Jerome Awards.”


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