Thursday, May 23, 2024

Celebrating Sgt. Maria Keen an Ottawa trailblazer on International Women’s Day

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Patrolling the streets is where Sgt. Maria Keen thrives most, it’s her chance to connect with the community.

“Everyday I can come out here, drive around make sure people are safe, go to calls,” said Keen, a member of the Ottawa Police Service.

She first joined the Nepean police in 1992, becoming the first female Filipina officer in Canada. Throughout her career, she’s worked towards building public trust, advocating for diversity and inclusion and championing women in policing.

“Early in my career realized, okay you’re not just Maria- you are a racialized minority who is also a female and how can you use that to help people?” she said.

With her efforts, OPS hired its most diverse recruit class in 2020. Forty percent of the new recruits identifying as female and 87.5% as a member of a marginalized group.

“My recruit class had 48 people almost half of them were women,” said Cst. Jenna Richardon who joined OPS in 2020. “That’s probably a significant change from when Maria started.”

That dedication has not gone unnoticed. In February, Keen received the Order of Merit from Governor General Mary Simon at Rideau Hall.

“It’s the most humbling experience in my thirty two year career,” she said.

The mom of two is also heavily involved in the Filipino community and serves as a part time instructor for the Police Foundations Program at Algonquin College. Soon, Keen will retire.

“There’ll be a big kind of hole to fill at least in our platoon,’ said Richardson.

“She’s been a great mentor to me,” said Cst. Welden Holder who joined in 2003.

“Whether it’s personal things or things at work she always has your back,” said Cst. Bassam Chaaroui.

There’s no set date yet, for now the veteran cop is staying focused on the present.

“To be fortunate enough to finish my career here on patrol on the front line is a blessing,” said Keen.

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