AU’s Rising Star & RCMP change agent

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alumni-awards-logo-2Nothing tells the story of Athabasca University better than the success of our students and alumni — people who are making their marks on the job and in their communities.

Meet Jeremie Landry, BPA Criminal Justice ’13,  Cold Lake, Alberta

Rising Star, Athabasca University, AU, #AthaU, RCMP, Jeremie Landry, Staff Sergeant,

Athabasca University’s Rising Star Alumni recipient, Staff Sgt. Jeremie Landry, shown at the 2016 Calgary Pride Parade [photo credit: Craig MacKenzie, Alberta RCMP]

Forming a sea of crimson among the flotillas at the 26th annual Pride Parade in downtown Calgary in September, 27 members of the Alberta RCMP donned their rainbow-and-Mountie buttons —  marching proudly along the parade route to acknowledge their organization’s solidarity with the Alberta LGBT community.

Leading the way was ‘Top Cop’ Deputy Commissioner and Commanding Officer Marianne Ryan — the first woman and first openly gay staff member to be appointed commanding officer in the history of the Alberta RCMP, in charge of the more than 4,000 Mounties in the province’s 112 detachments. Following alongside her was Staff Sgt. Jeremie Landry, detachment commander of the RCMP’s Cold Lake Alberta Division, and Athabasca University’s Rising Star Alumni award recipient.

Landry also happens to be one of Canada’s youngest RCMP staff members to have quickly risen through the ranks of red. He’s been promoted three times over the past five years. His devotion to community service along with his core belief in the importance of continuing education — particularly while on the job — are the components that helped cinch his AU alumni status.

Wellness advocate

Landry, 32, hails from Nova Scotia and comes from a family of RCMP members. Over his 12-year career, he says he’s watched the barriers of stigma slowly but surely chip away, having long divided members of the  RCMP’s “Old Guard” from its newer, more progressive organizational ethos.

Landry is openly gay. He has done much to further the LGBT cause within the RCMP and he is an integral part of a committee called the Commanding Officer Psychological Health and Wellness Committee. Formed 18 months ago, and comprised of RCMP members, civilian members within the organization, and an RCMP member’s spouse, the mandate of the group is to provide advice and recommendations to the Commanding Officer (Ryan) about potential strategies to enhance the psychological health and wellness of employees within the RCMP in Alberta.

Rising Star, Athabasca University, AU, #AthaU, RCMP, Jeremie Landry, Staff Sergeant,

Staff Sgt. Jeremie Landry and Deputy Commissioner Marianne Ryan at the 2016 Calgary Pride Parade [photo credit: Heidi Staseson]

“Our goal is to reduce the stigma of mental health so that employees feel able to come forward and seek help, rather than suffering in silence,” says Landry.

And although he notes the RCMP has made significant strides toward stamping out the stigmas associated with mental health, he concedes “we also have a long way to go,” though he’s confident that direction will continue and thrive.

“It’s an area that I’m passionate about, and I think if we continue to plug away at it, we’re going to continue to destroy those walls and barriers, and people are going to feel more like they can come forward and talk about it” he says.

Our goal is to reduce the stigma of mental health so that employees feel able to come forward and seek help, rather than suffering in silence.” ~ RCMP Staff Sgt. Jeremie Landry

Nearly two years ago, Commanding Officer Ryan asked Landry to represent the organization in the province on its national LGBT advisory committee. Working in partnership with the RCMP’s employment equity section, the committee’s purpose is to serve as a conduit for change with respect to sexual minority employees. Since being involved, Landry acknowledges the Mountie momentum keeps getting bolder and brighter, as evidenced with every Canadian Pride event.

Changing of the guard

Landry and his husband, Rambo Landry, a First Nations project coordinator for an adult education program within the Cold Lake First Nations, recently celebrated their third wedding anniversary. The latter proudly stood at Landry’s side when, on Sept. 30, at a celebration in Cold Lake, AU’s alumni team, led by Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences Dean Veronica Thompson, presented Landry with his Rising Star award.

Rising Star, Athabasca University, AU, #AthaU, RCMP, Jeremie Landry, Staff Sergeant, - Rambo Mackenzie, Athabasca University Rising Star alumnus Jeremie Landry, and Dr. Veronica Thompson, dean, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. [Photo credit: Meagan Pecjak, Bonnyille Nouvelle]

(left to right) Rambo Landry, Athabasca University Rising Star alumnus Jeremie Landry, and Dr. Veronica Thompson, dean, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. [Photo credit: Meagan Pecjak, Bonnyille Nouvelle]

And while Landry’s livelihood, both at home and at work, couldn’t seem more on the up-and-up, he says that wasn’t always the case. Early on in his career, he had a supervisor who wasn’t particularly kind.

“He treated me markedly different from the other members at the detachment. He didn’t have time for me, wouldn’t acknowledge me when I’d say hello to him,” says Landry.

He says that particular freeze-out period was when tensions stemming from stigma on the force were “kind of at their worst.” However, he stresses that type of behaviour has “absolutely no place within the RCMP” today and that formerly hostile supervisor has since retired.

“The RCMP recognizes that and has taken tremendous steps over the last few years to ensure a harassment-free organization, and to make sure that all employees feel valued and respected.”

Landry welcomes the changing climate within the RCMP and remarks that senior officers have approached him with words of thanks — for “starting the wheels in motion” regarding its LGBT advocacy.

“[They tell me] it’s good that it’s happening, and that it’s starting the conversation to normalize the subject and reduce the stigma.”

Early on [in my career], I did have a supervisor who basically ignored me … [that type of behaviour] has absolutely no place within the RCMP today.”

Landry’s Rising Star status also isn’t lost on Commanding Officer Ryan.

“Thank you for recognizing one of our folks,” she said to AU’s alumni team.

“It sends a nice message to all of us – that there are people that are supportive of the work that we are doing.”

And while she acknowledges that Landry may be relatively junior in his RCMP service, “ he is senior in leadership,” she attests.

“In terms of our rank structure, he’s at the highest level before he becomes an officer. It’s exceptional what he’s attained.”

She also affirms there’s no corner-cutting when it comes to his achievements.

“He has done it in a way that all of us in the RCMP would be proud to have done it. He has moved up the ranks by taking on bigger and bigger challenges. In every place that he has gone to, he has made it better.

Rising Star, Athabasca University, AU, #AthaU, RCMP, Jeremie Landry, Staff Sergeant, One to Watch

While AU’s alumni team refers to Landry as its Rising Star, Ryan says top brass at the RCMP call him One to Watch.

“Jeremie is going to go to great places,” she says, pointing to Landry’s humble and  low-key nature.

“He’s got that quiet confidence and is walking that walk in everything that he does. He applies the same approach to every challenge in such a positive way and makes it better.”

Ryan explains such an approach is key in policing, as it can serve to de-escalate tensions, particularly at Town Hall meetings where Landry has shown a knack for equipping the public with enough information that they feel confident about the role of the police in their community.

We couldn’t be more proud. Congratulations, Jeremie!

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