Why she’s a 2019 Top 40 Under 40: She finds ways for the Edmonton Police Service to work directly with the community. At 24, Celene Lemire was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, a disease so rare for her age it evaded doctors for months. After chemo, Lemire emerged cancer-free with a new outlook.
“It’s an immediate requirement to put your shit into perspective, right? If you aren’t sure how long you have to live, you have to decide what you value.”
She uses that outlook daily at the Edmonton Police Service (EPS), where she’s in charge of stakeholder relations. Her initial job with the EPS was to write its agreements. “And it started to be: why are we partnering here and not here?” says Lemire.
Now, she helps EPS engage directly with the community and other law enforcement agencies, forming partnerships that improve efficiency, quality of life and repair trust. Lemire helped work with the LGBTQ2S+ community to create an apology based on past EPS misbehaviour towards the group, and to build a sustainable relationship with the community. “It ended up not just being about the apology but about how to engage with vulnerable communities,” she says. She realized vulnerable people needed to be asked how they can best be served rather than simply prescribing a solution from an outside perspective.
She’s participated in and supported the work of the Residential Living Governance Committee, which brings together partners to ensure the safety of those in government subsidized housing. Through 24/7 Crisis Diversion, a program with REACH Edmonton, she works with community stakeholders who provide connections — housing, health access, food or transport — to those who would normally be heavy users of EPS’s emergency services. She’s creating partnerships across the city between EPS and academia, the non-profit sector and the public sector.
“People take on these partnerships and are really excited about it. Instead of this laborious thing that they have to do, it’s this amazing project they’re working on with a group of people you’d never expect to be in the same room,” says Lemire.
This article appears in the November 2019 issue of Avenue Edmonton.