Nov 29, 2016
Posted in: recognition
By Daniel A. Downs
While it has not been uncommon for residents of Newfoundland and Labrador to move out west to seek their fortunes, most in their autumn years decide to return back to the East Coast, relax seaside, and enjoy their days with friends and family.
This was not the case for Derek Ballard, instructor in DTI’s Security Officer Program in Buffalo Narrows. After a long career with both the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary (if we had a Provincial Police force… that would be it) as well as the RCMP, Derek decided to try to make a difference in the world of Security… literally travelling the world and providing security training to rural and remote areas as well as state-of-the-art urban training facilities. Derek’s last major security contract was with the College of the North Atlantic in Qatar. For those of you who have never heard of Qatar, it is situated in the middle of the Persian Gulf, bordering Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates; a place that I have always wanted to visit and had numerous questions about.
When Derek arrived in Saskatoon, we immediately began to discuss the similarities and differences between Newfoundland and Saskatchewan. Our conversation reminded me of the first time I spoke with DTI/GDI staff almost seven years ago about what to expect going North for the first time. Being from Southern Saskatchewan and having never travelled north of Prince Albert, the areas of Beauval, Pinehouse, La Loche, Ile-a-la-Crosse, and Buffalo Narrows were as foreign to me as Saskatchewan was to Derek. I wanted to know everything I could about the differences and so did he. After a rather long conversation (only having been interrupted by my children asking Derek constant questions about his accent and if Newfoundland was as big as Saskatoon) we came to the understanding that most differences between the North and South, as well as East and West are largely superficial. That in the end, no matter where you go or where you call home, people love to learn, they love to experience new things, and they only want the best for each other. Everything else is… like I said… rather superficial.
I have had the pleasure of knowing many people from Newfoundland over the course of my career, but very few with stories that could rival Derek’s. In the short time I spent with him before he travelled North to DTI’s Security program, I learned that the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary is the oldest operating Civil Police Force in North America; that it is one of only two Police Forces in Canada to use the term “Royal” in its name (the other being the Royal Canadian Mounted Police); and that up until 1998, Officers were not permitted to carry side-arms. Having been modeled after the British Bobby, Officers had to use verbal de-escalation techniques as well as control tactics to deal with potential assailants. This aligns perfectly with DTI’s Security program, where students are taught that you should always attempt to de-escalate a situation using verbal means rather than physical.
I do not think that Derek is the first from Newfoundland to live and work in the Village of Buffalo Narrows, and I certainly do not believe he will be the last. My hope is that Derek will leave a memorable and lasting mark on the community as much as I hope the community will leave a positive and lasting impression on him. His wealth of experience, willingness to bring training to the people, and amazing stories will definitely leave students with the skills and tools needed to work as Security officers in Saskatchewan. Let’s just hope they stay in Saskatchewan and not follow him out East. After all… some of those stories are incredibly exciting.