The phrase “The Thin Blue Line” is synonymous with policing and law enforcement. It is the “Line” in “Line of Duty”, it represents what stands between society, order, peace and crime, anarchy, chaos. What stands beyond the thin blue line are the husbands and wives, sons and daughters, common-law partners and significant others, mothers and fathers of our officers.
The key elements of our organization lie within the following objectives:
To offer a community of support to police families
To promote awareness of our officer’s worth as well as an understanding of the joys and struggles that are uniquely experienced in life in law enforcement
To coordinate resources, educational opportunities & training that will aid in offering training & practical tools to police spouses and families
To reduce the stigma associated with mental illness and mental injuries
To facilitate police families connecting on a social level to build friendships and supportive relationships
Our best tool for measuring our success will be as simple as the number of lives we are able to touch. This will be reflected in the size of our membership, the number of people attending scheduled meetings/events and the number of active members on social media sites.
Canada Beyond The Blue is working towards increasing the number of established Beyond The Blue Chapters across Canada. This will allow for greater support structures, collaboration and access to resources for police families in Canada.
Larger organizations have an inherent strength and advantage which can include a greater influence, stronger brand recognition, an economy of scale, greater human resources and more – all of which Canada Beyond The Blue and its Chapters will benefit from.
In the fall of 2013, BTB Founder Savannah Magnussen-Afonso and wife of a Calgary Police Service officer attended a weekend retreat for police spouses, along with 30 other spouses of Calgary Police officers. She came away not only with many new friends but also with a vision to create an organization to focus on issues that affect police families, where we could relate, educate ourselves and support one another through the journey.
While the police department offers support to our officers, there is little support for the everyday issues we, as police families, struggle with. We endeavored to get as many spouses & family members together as we are interested in an effort to build strong relationships and successful families through experience, friendship, and training. We believe if we have peers who understand our fears and frustrations, our joys and triumphs, that we can truly be encouraged by one another. Beyond The Blue was born out of this common goal with the support and endorsement of the Calgary Police Service and Calgary Police Association and the hard work of 4 CPS spouses who endeavored to create an organization that has grown to include hundreds of police families.
A core group of individuals including Calgary Beyond The Blue president Savannah Magnussen-Afonso, vice president Amanda Dalton, director Tara Ernst, and director Mary-Ellen Hartmann took steps to make this vision a reality and started what would soon become the first of more Beyond The Blue chapters across Canada.
York Beyond The Blue joined our BTB family in 2016 under the York Regional Police Service’s Peer Support Unit. The YRPS Peer Support Unit realized the need and importance of educating and supporting our members’ families and saw great success in the Beyond The Blue model.
Canada BTB welcomed Toronto as a part of the Beyond The Blue family in 2017 under the leadership of 2 TPS spouses who shared our vision for supporting & strengthening police families. Toronto BTB president Dilnaz Garda and Vice President Kristal Jones. Dilnaz lost her brother, P.C. Darius Garda in February of 2016 when he took his life after battling years of mental health issues after an on the job shooting. Since then, Dilnaz has been determined to normalize conversations around mental health and is committed to the growth of Canada BTB.
Realizing Canada Beyond The Blue would only continue to grow, in 2017 Savannah and Dilnaz began to formalize operations for Canada Beyond The Blue.
Seeing the success of the other chapters across the country as well as the support and resources available to spouses and family members of uniform and civilian officers, it was clear to some other dedicated individuals that we needed to establish a chapter in the Vancouver, Durham & Peel Regions.
In 2019, Canada BTB is thrilled to welcome Vancouver BTB under the leadership of VPD Spouse Erica McKeddie; and Durham BTB President Julie Skinner and Vice President Shantel Munro are excited about the opportunities that being a part of Beyond the blue will bring to all DRPS families. Peel BTB was welcomed in 2019 as well thanks to Caitlin Alwyn and Karina Docampo-Nash.