"Being a woman means being strong and standing up for others and yourself. Women can achieve any goals they wish to pursue. Dreams and careers are not gender specific, and know that nothing can stand in your way if you are driven and determined to succeed."-Wendy Mehat, Officer in Charge, Ridge Meadows RCMP
Growing up in Squamish, BC, Wendy Mehat always admired police officers and aspired to become one someday. It was almost surreal for her to leave Squamish to go to Regina, Saskatchewan, to train when she decided to join RCMP at 20. At the time, she never imagined that one day she’d become the Officer in Charge of the community. In fact, for the longest time, she was happy to serve as the patrol constable until she realized that she wanted to achieve more and have a much more significant impact on the community.
As Officer in Charge, Wendy oversees policing, police response, community welfare initiatives, human resources, and more in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows cities. Amidst all this, she prioritizes the mental and physical well-being of her police officers, who see so much trauma all around them. At the same time, she feels strongly about supporting youth in the community, particularly those undergoing mental health issues. “After serving in the RCMP for almost 23 years, I’ve understood that the issue of mental health, drug abuse, and homelessness are all intertwined. You cannot formulate responses for one without tackling the others,” she says.
Wendy has previously been part of several policing projects and specialized teams focused on dealing with the Opioid crisis. For instance, during her stint with Surrey RCMP, she worked on several community-facing initiatives that helped businesses, residents, and commuters feel safer. At the same time, Wendy supported those experiencing mental health concerns, addictions, and homelessness within the City of Surrey. For RCMP officers, she created a police mental health and recreation team, which included a mental health liaison officer and a nurse on board that supported those experiencing mental health issues. She also led a program termed “Project Lavender,” which helped female youth make positive lifestyle choices, engage in healthy relationships, and build a strong sense of self-worth. It also educated and built awareness around sexual exploitation and drug/ alcohol abuse.
These experiences helped her meet some incredible people along the way. It also made her empathize with vulnerable communities and formulate more empathetic solutions to their problems. Wendy advises those inspired by her journey to always set realistic goals and follow through with them. At this point, she’s grateful to be working in her dream job and having an incredibly supportive family. “I’m so thankful to my husband and two daughters who have supported me through odd shifts, promotions, and times when I couldn’t be there for their birthdays and Christmases,” she says.
What does being a woman mean to you?
Being a woman means being strong and standing up for others and yourself. Women can achieve any goals they wish to pursue. Dreams and careers are not gender specific, and know that nothing can stand in your way if you are driven and determined to succeed.
What has been your most significant achievement?
While working at the Surrey RCMP, I was inspired to build a program to help young women make positive life choices and engage in healthy relationships. Another professional highlight was engaging with residents and businesses during the opioid crisis. Also, I’m proud of achieving my recent career goal of becoming an Officer in Charge.
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What or who inspires you to do better each day?
My two daughters, husband and extended family, inspire me. They helped me find a balance to work on the front lines in a job I loved. It meant supporting me through career assignments that didn’t have typical “9 to 5” work hours. Also, the young men and women who work in my police department inspire me every day. I am humbled to call them ‘my team.’ They are selfless and hardworking, and without their support, I would not be able to achieve the career successes I have today.
What is your advice to women who wish to follow your path?
Set realistic goals. Start small and graduate to more significant projects and tasks as you build self-confidence. It will help ensure you are not discouraged and ready to quit. And most importantly, be prepared to get out of your comfort zone and take on some challenges and risks along the way. Whenever you do what you thought was ‘unthinkable or unachievable,’ you will be so proud of yourself and inspired to go further.
What is your success mantra?
Pay it forward by helping others along the way - mentor, coach, and support future leaders and women. And remember to be humble and kind to others along the way. Also, remember that it is okay to make mistakes but learn from them and that every successful person has faced rejection at some point in their life.
Photo: A Master Media
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