Part of a series of People Making a Difference for National Indigenous Peoples Day
Mairead Kenny was born and raised in Vancouver and Inuvik, Northwest Territories. She considers the explanation on how to pronounce her name as a, “long, boring explanation,” so, mostly to bug her mother, she cheerfully goes by, “Maire.”
Mairead is Irish and means strength and independence. Kenny’s background is Irish-Canadian, Gwi’itchin Indian and Inuvaliuit.
She spent one year of her childhood in Inuvik where she learned to trap and fish with her father, who was a part of Kenny’s life only briefly, as she and her mother returned to Vancouver.
Over the next 20 years, in Vancouver, Mairead Kenny strives to live up to the meaning of her name.
In 2010, Kenny was accepted into the Aboriginal Cadet Program with Vancouver Police Department (VPD), where she met VPD Officer Carla Arial. Arial became her mentor and today remains a good friend in her life.
While in the program, Kenny said she was very fortunate to participate on the Pulling Together Canoe Journey, calling the experience, “one of the most enlightening, positive and emotional experiences of my life. It was incredible to be part of this community and paddle together throughout the Lower Mainland with people of all backgrounds and ages.”
Following this, Kenny became a mentor with the Urban Native Youth Association (UNYA), and mentored two teenagers.
“It was endearing to reach out and spend time with youth who can benefit from role models and learn things together,” said Kenny. “One of our most memorable outings was kayaking with a big group from UNYA and encouraging my teens to challenge themselves.”
Kenny worked as a guard in the VPD Jail. Here, she interacted with people every day, many of whom were dealing with personal struggles including substance abuse, mental health and socio-economic issues.
“This was definitely eye opening and often difficult, but it built my confidence in my ability to communicate with people who faced these difficulties,” said Kenny. “I learned everyone has their story.”
In late 2014, when her recruiter told him she has been hired as a police constable with VPD, Kenny said she cried on the spot.
“I couldn’t contain my emotions because I was so happy, overwhelmed and definitely anxious to start my career,” said Kenny.
Three years later, Kenny is working as a patrol officer in Vancouver on the west side. Her role, like thousands of her fellow officers in Canada, is personally important.
“I enjoy this role, regardless of the demands and challenges because I know I worked endlessly to get here and am thankful for everything I have learned,” said Kenny.