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Police officer spent early life in foster care

By: Heidi Ulrichsen - Sudbury Northern Life

 | Apr 18, 2014 - 12:53 PM |
Greater Sudbury Police school liaison officer Denise Fraser was one of the guest speakers at the fourth annual Courage to Stand Conference April 17. Photo by Heidi Ulrichsen.

Greater Sudbury Police school liaison officer Denise Fraser was one of the guest speakers at the fourth annual Courage to Stand Conference April 17. Photo by Heidi Ulrichsen.

Never give up, she encourages students

Denise Fraser spent her childhood being bounced between foster homes and her grandmother's care.

Kids often teased her about her circumstances, calling her “Orphan Annie” and “Secondhand Rose.” Because it seemed that every time she got close to someone, they hurt her, she didn't trust anyone.

“If you looked at me sideways, I'd come out fighting,” said Fraser, who has been a Greater Sudbury Police school liaison officer for 30 years. “So I got the label of being a bully at a very young age.”

But then her Grade 6 teacher told her she'd end up in jail some day if she didn't change her ways, and started teaching her how to deal with teasing in a more positive way.

“She also widened my peripheral view of the world, because before her, it was a pretty dark world,” Fraser said, speaking April 17 at the police service's Courage to Stand Conference.

“She opened up the possibilities that I was intelligent, that I was worth it.”

By sharing her story, the officer said she wanted to encourage the 100 high school students listening to her speech to believe in themselves.

“Don't let anyone stop you from getting the beautiful future that's there for you,” Fraser said. “You can do anything you want, as long as you put your mind to it.”

The Courage to Stand Conference was first held four years ago on April 20 to change the day's negative connotations, as it's Hitler's Birthday, the anniversary of the Columbine massacre and is associated with marijuana use.

The conference encourages youth to follow their dreams “versus looking at the negative,” said the event's organizer, Greater Sudbury Police PAVIS (Provincial Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy) education co-ordinator Anna Barasanti.

The conference also featured a talk by Vincent Bolt, a transgendered man, skits by Sudbury Secondary School students and a presentation by the police service on the dark side of social media.

Det. Const. Todd Bignucolo and Det. Const. Blair Ramsey, who work in Greater Sudbury Police's cyber crime unit, showed the students just how dangerous “sexting,” or sending out explicit images, can be.

An extreme example of what can happen is the story of Amanda Todd, who killed herself in October 2012, after a man in the Netherlands allegedly blackmailed her with explicit webcam footage, they said.

Back in the 1970s, the fact that a photo on a Polaroid camera developed in 90 seconds was considered revolutionary, the officers said.

But they showed how an image shared on social media last year travelled around the world in just 90 seconds. “The main message is think before you hit send,” said Ramsey.

Grade 12 Sudbury Secondary School student Shae-Lynn Nazure was part of the group from the school who presented skits on having the courage to stand during the conference.

“We show that even in all the different situations, there's still a way we can stand up against the people who have put us down,” she said.

The student said she enjoyed the other presentations, adding that she found Fraser's speech “inspirational,” and thinks the fact that an image can reach the other side of the world in 90 seconds “a little scary.”

“It got our attention,” Nazure said.
Heidi Ulrichsen

Heidi Ulrichsen

Staff Writer


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