The people of Collingwood: Const. Theresa Van Boven, Ontario Provincial Police School Resources Officer
Although she plans to retire this month, a longtime local OPP officer will not be able to stay completely out of the long arm of the law.
For this week’s edition of People of Collingwood, we spoke with Const. Theresa Van Boven, 53, Head of School Resources at OPP Collingwood.
Q: How long have you lived in Collingwood?
A: Since 1994. I was born in Belleville.
Q: What brought you to Collingwood?
A: My husband. He is also a retired Ontario Provincial Police officer. We met at the OPP in Kingston Township.
He’s a boy from Collingwood. His family owned a business here in town, Golden Fish and Chips. He’s an only child, so we moved to this area to be closer to them. We have been married for 30 years last January.
Q: Did you always know you wanted to be a police officer?
A: Yes. I started (with the OPP) at the age of 20.
From 1989 to 1994, I worked in Kingston Township. From 1994 to 1995, I worked at the Midland Detachment. From 1995 to 2000, I worked in Wasaga Beach. From 2000 to now, Collingwood.
When I was in Southern Georgian Bay I worked in sexual assault with the criminal unit and worked on the front line on the road (police). I have also worked on domestic violence and mental health.
Q: What made you want to become a police officer?
A: My father is a police officer.
I have always been interested in his work.
Maybe because I was exposed to it when I was young. I like helping people. I have always been interested in trying to make a difference.
Q: You are currently the Resource Manager at Collingwood School. Can you tell us a bit about this role?
A: I did this for about a year when I was in Kingston Township. From 2001 to 2005, I worked with Collingwood Collegiate Institute and Jean Vanier Catholic High School. (now Notre-Dame de la Baie)
For five years, I have returned to these high schools.
I really enjoy working with young people, and I love this connection.
Q: Are there any stories you would like to share about times in your career when you were able to help someone?
A: There are so many.
Once there were two students who came from struggling backgrounds. They needed orthodontic and dental care. I helped them overcome some shortcomings and helped them do this job. There are a lot of students going to orientation who might have difficulty with things at home or the dynamics of social media. We try to help solve this problem so that they feel comfortable coming to the school and mediating whatever the problem is.
We are also running an initiative for young people in the police force. I was able to help some students get summer jobs. We have scholarships for needy students who want to pursue post-secondary education.
Q: How have the struggles of young people changed over time, in your experience?
A: Social media has definitely made a difference.
A lot of people will post things that they would never say to someone to their face.
Q: Youth mental health is a growing concern due to COVID-19. Was this something that you also saw?
A: Yes. It’s not just because they’re not in school either. It is not being able to participate in activities, such as sports. For many children, it is their outlet.
Q: Are you fully retired at the end of this school year?
A: I am retiring. However, I will be returning a few days a week to help with the courts as a bailiff.
Q: Now that you are retiring, what do you plan to do with your free time?
A: I love kayaking, canoeing, hiking, camping. I have two Australian Shepherds and love to walk them. I also have two children: my son is in the Canadian Armed Forces and is currently abroad. My daughter just graduated from high school at Collingwood Collegiate.
Q: When you look back on your career, are there any ideas you would like to share?
A: Be respectful and kind to people (is important), especially young people.
I have worked closely with the Elizabeth Fry Society. They use a diversion method, so instead of taking someone to court, you could use (another) option to try to get someone back on track. I have worked with several employees of the Elizabeth Fry Society over the years where we implemented sanctions that would support (people), whether through counseling or community restitution.
It’s part of a police officer’s job: finding resources in the community to support people.
For our feature film People of Collingwood, we’ll be talking with interesting people who are either from the community of Collingwood or contributing in some way or another, allowing them to tell their own stories in their own words. This feature will work on CollingwoodToday every Saturday. If you would like to nominate or suggest someone to be featured in People of Collingwood, email [email protected]