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Success Stories

To Serve and Protect

Photo of Constable ShenIn his five short but action-packed years in Canada, Shen has gone from a computer programming masters student at Dalhousie University to a constable with the Toronto Police Service. In between, he got married, his wife had a baby son, he became a Canadian citizen and he ran his own business.

While his career path is not exactly what he had mapped out when he came to Canada in 2001, Shen is happy with the way things have turned out.

“I ended my studies when my wife became pregnant in 2003,” he says. “I did everything I could — delivering pizzas and working as a security guard, trying to get my own business off the ground as well. It might not have been the way I planned things, but it was what I needed to do.”

The idea of becoming a police officer came from a commercial on a Chinese-language television station, and Shen was drawn to the “serve and protect” mission of the Toronto Police Service.

“It was a call for Chinese civilians who might be interested in serving on the Toronto Police Force. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. My parents were in the military, so I was familiar with some of that kind of life, and I knew there would be respect for this kind of job.”

Graduating from the Ontario Police College in May 2006, and becoming a Canadian citizen in June 2006, Constable Shen is now hard at work in his new career and very happy with his decision.

“Certainly my language comes in handy,” he says. “I’ve been called in to translate in some situations, and in another I was able to help a woman who had witnessed a crime but she only spoke Chinese. She was very glad I was there, and I was happy to be able to help her.”

Both Constable Shen and his wife understand service to the public. His wife, who came to Canada in 1998, is a nurse in Toronto. Their three-and-a-half-year-old son is thriving, and a secure career path is ahead for the couple.

“I have had some changes in my life, that is certain,” Constable Shen says. “But I am now a police officer in Canada — someone whose first language is not English — and I have learned in a short time what it means to serve and protect. I am serving other Chinese Canadians and the City of Toronto all at the same time.”

The Toronto Police Service has hired a number of minority recruits, and at the division where Constable Shen is stationed, 96 of the officers speak a total of 29 languages.