Chief Operations Officer, Community Safety And Wellbeing, Edmonton Police Service
When Enyinnah Okere first moved to Canada from Nigeria as a seven-year-old, he was embarrassed when he was put in ESL classes. “I spoke Igbo, but I also spoke English. I thought my English was fine, but my accent was so thick, they would send me to those classes. It was horrible.”
He describes the difficulty of being different as a turning point. “We can talk about how differences make strength, but that’s not with kids. Kids can be awful.”
The feeling of not being welcome, of being an outsider, was foundational. Okere says he learned early that he had to prove himself and make things happen, a perspective that defined him through high school, a career in university athletics, high level positions in the Saskatchewan government and as an administrator at the Edmonton Police Service.
Okere’s work builds bridges between the police service and community, where he led the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police’s apology to the LGBTQ2S+ community and the Commitment to Action, EPS’s engagement effort with Edmonton’s communities.
He credits EPS’s focus on diversity as allowing him to be authentic and create an inclusive space. It’s a role he embraces: “I owe it to anyone coming after me to show them they can not only contribute, but they can lead.”
With this in mind, Okere created a foundation with his wife (and fellow Top 40 honouree) Michelle, which assists young Edmontonians in removing barriers to allow them to participate in organized sports.