Submitted by  Sgt. Darren Kakuno
Detachment Commander
Columbia Valley RCMP

The Columbia Valley RCMP is searching for a new corporal, after longtime local detachment member Corporal Louis-Phillipe Gendron Fafard left his post here to take over the RCMP’s Nass Valley detachment in northern B.C.

Cpl. Gendron Fafard, affectionately called LP (short for Louis-Phillipe) by almost everybody who knew him, was with Columbia Valley RCMP for more than four years, and during that time became very well known in the community, through his presence at local schools, his work as a media liaison officer, and his time spent volunteering as a youth soccer coach.

Following stints as an RCMP officer in Kamloops, and prior to that, in Richmond, B.C. Cpl. Gendron Fafard and family arrived in the Columbia Valley in late 2017. He came here on a promotion to corporal, and it was another promotion that took him out of the valley, as three weeks ago Gendron Fafard became the new sergeant in the Nass Valley, an area consisting of four Aboriginal Nisga’a communities, about an hour north of Terrace.

The decision to leave the Columbia Valley wasn’t an easy one, Cpl. Gendron Fafard told the Pioneer, saying “my family and I have made some great friends and great relationships in the valley. It was hard to leave. We all love it here, and my wife and I agree that when the time comes to retire, we may very well move back to the Columbia Valley.”

Columbia Valley Sergeant Darren Kakuno praised Cpl. Gendron Fafard’s service with the local detachment here. 

“After Cpl. Brent Ayers retired, LP was responsible for supervising all of our constables and he was also second in charge of our detachment, so to say he was a busy officer would be an understatement” Kakuno told the Pioneer.  “LP had a genuine interest in building relationships at our local schools, in fact school staff would often contact him directly with any issues. LP was instrumental in bringing the WITS anti-bullying program (Walk Away, Ignore, Talk it Out, Seek Help) to Columbia Valley schools. He provided numerous presentations to students on topics ranging from bullying to law lectures. LP was never formally identified as our school liaison, but he naturally fell into the role and was always happy to help out at the schools.”

“When I first started in Invermere, I realized there was an opportunity to increase the police connection to the primary and elementary schools, as well as the high school,” Cpl. Gendron Fafard said. “So I gathered some resources, put together some presentations, and then it grew from there.  It went really well, and I think it helped change some perceptions about policing among the students; letting them know that what we do in the community is actually quite different from what you might think police do based just on watching television shows or movies.”

Cpl. Gendron Fafard was particularly pleased that many high school students now know more about resources available to those caught in violent relationships (“which unfortunately do happen here in the valley at the high school level,” he said). He was also delighted with how Eileen Madson Primary (EMP) students responded to the WITS program there, saying “I came back (to do the WITS program) the second year, and I thought that I would essentially be starting all over. But I was mistaken. Not only did they remember who I was, one year later, but they could rhyme off to me what WITS stands for, how it works. They remembered everything. It was amazing.”

Many local youngsters not already familiar with Cpl. Gendron Fafard through the schools, got to know him as a soccer coach, with the high school and at the under -16 level.

Cpl. Gendron Fafard explained that “as a kid myself, I had some really great role models, especially when I was a soccer player in my high school and college days. And, as it turned out, soccer opened a lot of doors for me. So, in terms of deciding to be a coach, I just wanted to give back a bit.”

Other duties that Cpl. Gendron Fafard undertook with the Columbia Valley RCMP included media relations, and he was also instrumental in bringing online crime reporting to the valley.

“The media training was quite interesting. You learn how to craft press releases, and hopefully how to sound a bit better during television and radio interviews. Again, it comes back to connecting to the community. If we are better with our media relations, hopefully that helps create a better relationship between the police and the community,” he said. 

With the online crime reporting, Sgt. Kakuno explained that “LP recognized that many less serious crimes were not being reported, so now, if police response is not required, members of the public can generate a report online 24/7 and they don’t have to wait for the office to be open.”

“It became a good way for us to gather data on smaller crimes, so that we are not relying as much on the rumour mill or on the old Cheers and Jeers (now called Cheers Without Tears) in the Pioneer for those kinds of tips,” Cpl. Gendron Fafard told the Pioneer. “It gave us a better map of where smaller crimes tend to happen, and allowed us to target those areas and eventually there was a reduction in small crimes.”

Sgt. Kakuno explained that “LP was often described as the serious officer in the detachment. In the office, he would put his head down and get a tremendous amount of work done. I always knew the detachment was in good hands when I was away. His work ethic was recognized and his promotion to detachment commander of Nass Valley detachment is well deserved.”

The move to Nass Valley has gone well so far, said Cpl. Gendron Fafard, adding “I’ve had great reception throughout the communities here.”

The rest of his family – his wife, who works in the local school system here, his preschool aged son, and his daughter, who is in Grade 1 at EMP – are remaining in the Columbia Valley until the school year finishes in late June, before they too move to the Nass Valley.

Although they are leaving Invermere, the family will take many memories of the area with them, said Cpl. Gendron Fafard.

“There is so much to do, in winter or in summer. The lake is beautiful, the hiking is outstanding, and we loved skiing at Panorama,” said Cpl. Gendron Fafard, adding he will always remember one of the first times he and his son, just four years old, rode the chairlift up to the summit at Panorama, and then skied down a mogul-filled black diamond run.

“I thought it was going to be dicey, because the moguls were literally as high as he was, but he loved every moment of it,” said Cpl. Gendron Fafard. “And so did I.”

Sgt. Kakuno said Cpl. Gendron Fafard leaves some large boots to fill, outlining that “a replacement for LP has not yet been identified. His position will be going to promotion. Realistically, I don’t expect his replacement to be identified before our busy summer period.”