Accomplishments of approximately 350 future justice and public safety leaders recognized
The Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC) celebrated the achievements of approximately 350 graduates and bestowed an honorary degree on Tim Armstrong at its Winter Convocation held on March 12, 2020 at its New Westminster campus.
"JIBC is a unique public post-secondary institution, in Canada, and perhaps in the world. We have a crucial responsibility – to develop dynamic justice and public safety professionals through our applied education, training and research,” JIBC President and CEO Dr. Michel Tarko told the graduates.
Dr. Tarko said he is always impressed when observing students on campus engaged in scenario-based training, practising how to respond to a wide range of real-life situations. “It is that evident desire to be the one coming to the rescue on people’s absolute worst days that never fails to give me hope for the future.”
New Westminster Fire Chief Tim Armstrong was conferred an honorary degree in recognition of nearly 40 years of leadership and contributions to public safety in Canada and internationally.
He spoke of the importance of building relationships and how they proved crucial when he was the task force leader for Vancouver’s Heavy Urban Search and Rescue team after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. Within two days of the disaster he and the team arrived in St. Bernard Parish in New Orleans, thanks to contacts in the Louisiana governor’s office and WestJet.
“Upon arriving at their makeshift command center, I introduced myself as the leader of a search-and-rescue team from Canada. They were in shock as we were the first to arrive to support their community,” said Armstrong to the graduates.
“Over the next week we rescued 119 people trapped in their homes and assisted with evacuation efforts for hundreds more. Had it not been for those relationships we would never have deployed and who knows what the outcome of the people we rescued would have been.”
Heddwen Braun, graduating with a Certificate in Primary Care Paramedicine, spoke on behalf of all graduating students at JIBC.
“As first responders, health care providers, support staff, public servants and even volunteers, we work towards a common goal, driven by a commitment and passion to not only provide help in dire circumstances, but to make a profound difference in the world in which we live,” said Braun.
“Our development of such skills and new career paths through the education, training and support gained from our time spent at the Justice Institute of British Columbia has been a multi-faceted experience in which the attributes of community have been displayed,” she said. “Whatever your motivation is in pursuing a career through a JIBC education, do so with passion. Do so with commitment. Do so with a profound respect for the trust that others will place in our hands.”