We Are Strong: Troy Derrick
November 15, 2016

Troy Derrick

Skateboarder Constable

Upon meeting Troy Derrick, the first thing you might notice is the skateboard that’s been a permanent fixture in his hands since his early teens. You might also catch a glimpse of the skeleton Mountie tattoo on his arm.

That image is a popular skateboarding graphic, so it’s a bit of a coincidence — or perhaps serendipity — that Troy would one day become a Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

Troy, a proud member of the Gitxsan First Nation, could have potentially pursued a career in skateboarding had he not blown out his knee. So, instead, the man of many talents became a trained gourmet chef.

While teaching a First Nations culinary program in Surrey, he kept telling his students that you can do whatever you want in this country and strive for any career. “It was frustrating to see that some of my students were not pushing themselves to their full potential,” he says. “Then one of my students puts up his hand and asked me ‘Hey, Chef Troy, what about you? Can you change and do whatever you want?”

So I asked, “What do you think is the hardest thing a First Nations person could do in this country?”

The student answered, “Why don’t you try becoming a cop? We all hate them anyway.”

Within two weeks, Troy found himself at an RCMP information session.

As a kid growing up in Prince George, B.C., Troy remembers being hassled by the cops for not only being Aboriginal, but also for being a skateboarder. The parent coach on Troy’s youth baseball team was also an RCMP officer, and his son frequently taunted Troy with racist jokes. “His actions rubbed off on the other players and they began to say things, too.” It took an emotional toll on Troy. “I knew I would never want anyone to feel that way.”

Today, as an RCMP officer in Surrey, working with the First Nation Community Police Service, Troy says, “I am able to ‘be’ the change in the community.” In other words, he’s become a role model — an example of the “potential” anyone can achieve.

Troy has twice been nominated for Police Officer of the Year for the City of Surrey. He not only regularly speaks to groups, he also spearheaded a program for high school youth called Code Blue, aimed at building inner strength, self-discipline and confidence.

“There are no winners or losers in this program,” says Troy. “The only way you can compete is competing against yourself.”

Troy sees great potential in the youth he meets in Surrey. “As ‘proud Canadians,’ we don’t always live up to what it means to be Canadian in terms of being polite and multicultural. We are not always as polite as we think we are and there are multiple pockets of different cultures only sticking to ourselves,” he says. “It is the children that have taken the initiative to question why that is. Children are not born rude or racist; that is a learned behaviour. These days, the children’s voices are growing and we are starting to see their efforts impact the community in a positive way.”

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