Myra Maksymchuk, OPPVA President Bob Arbour, award winner Andrew Maksymchuk, OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique at award ceremony. (Contributed)

Vernon man named 2018 OPP Veteran of the Year

After a successful career with the OPP, Andrew Maksymchuk returned to B.C. to retire in Vernon

Growing up on a farm in Grindrod before his family moved to Vernon, Andrew “Maks” Maksymchuk always wanted to be a police officer. But, the path to his desired career was not straightforward.

Unsuccessful in his bid to join the Mounties – the policing service which had just a decade earlier taken over provincial policing in B.C. – Maksymchuk was forced to leave his friends, family and province in the early 1960s in search of the career he coveted.

In Ontario, he found Canada’s second largest police organization – the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and, after waiting the six month residency requirement, passing a provincial knowledge test, and successfully fulfilling all joining demands, he found himself heading back west – practically halfway home to B.C. – to the northwestern town of Kenora as a new recruit.

Maksymchuk’s diverse policing career would span Canada’s most populous province. He served in communities from the remotest where the Manitoba border peaks with Ontario on the shore of Hudson Bay, to the tangled spaghetti highways around Toronto, Canada’s largest city. He trained with the Canadian Army at military bases within Ontario and became the first Provincial Coordinator of the OPP’s Tactics and Rescue Unit.

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He would go on to become a Detective Inspector with the Criminal Investigation Branch, a unit world-renowned in police circles for its firsts in investigative techniques.

Retiring in 1994 as Deputy Commander of the Sudbury District, Maksymchuk and his wife, Myra, a Registered Nurse from Prince Edward Island, heeded the call of the mountains and elected to live in Vernon within the beloved Okanagan Valley. But the police bonds remained and Maks soon found himself connected to his former career through the OPP Veterans’ Association (OPPVA). Made up of active, former and retired uniform, auxiliary and civilian members and associates, the OPPVA embodies the spirit of and commitment to fellowship that has characterized the OPP since its creation in 1909. With over 2000 members within 23 Chapters spanning Ontario, the OPPVA serves as an essential conduit to shared communication with the OPP on important issues, ensuring that former members and their families remain linked to the OPP for continued wellness benefits as well as in the spirit of shared experience and camaraderie to the benefit of all.

Recently, Maksymchuk flew to Toronto with Myra from his home in B.C. to be honoured for his contributions after retirement. He was critical in reviving one of the OPPVA’s floundering Chapters and even while living in BC ensures its membership continues to thrive. He has written three books entwining family, friends, community and police duty against a backdrop of a changing Canada. The books place the OPP in a unique position in Canadian police history and give recognition to many veterans who served. He also initiated then advocated for the creation of the OPP’s “Silent Partner” award, a recognition that was created to honour the wives of OPP officers who served at remote detachments and contributed countless unpaid hours to supporting their husbands in their policing roles.

On May 31, in a unanimous decision over several other contenders, OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique presented Maksymchuk with the prestigious OPP Veteran of the Year Award for 2018.

READ MORE: Grindrod farm boy receives top honour

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