For Corporal Jessica MacLean the RCMP has been a lifeline of personal and professional support
B.C., Federal Serious and Organized Crime
2023-05-31 14:34 PDT
Corporal Jessica MacLean sits cross-legged on the floor in front of a group of people. In a soft voice she encourages us to notice our breath travelling in and out. She gently reminds us, this is our practice, and to pay attention to what our bodies are telling us as we move through the hour.
Every Thursday, Cpl. MacLean leads police officers and civilian staff in an hour-long yoga practice at BC RCMP headquarters in Surrey. She does this without compensation for her skills or time. Her only true payment is the well-being of her colleagues and she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Jess, as she is known, began yoga teacher training as a way to do something just for herself, after her family went through a traumatic and difficult experience.
It was a really challenging time with our family. I felt I wanted to do yoga just for myself, says Cpl. MacLean.
I thought it would be good for our family. I could do it at home and then share it with my family, she adds.
As Cpl. MacLean was finishing the training, her yoga instructor suggested she’d make a great teacher.
She encouraged me to consider it not just for myself but for others and that lit the spark, Cpl. MacLean says. She also became part of the wellness committee at Green Timbers, where the BC RCMP headquarters is housed.
I also thought I could instruct yoga, here, for my colleagues.
Many of the new participants at her regular yoga class outside of BC RCMP headquarters have no idea she’s a police officer who works in federal policing—a complex unit that conducts high-profile national and international investigations.When the information was coming out in the media about residential schools, I got a lot of questions. Yoga has taught me to hear with an open mind because that’s what you do in yoga practice,she says.
As a police officer and yoga instructor, it gives her an opportunity to have different conversations with her clients.
It’s easy to criticize a larger organization and the media can be very negative toward us, but for the most part, I think people understand the need for policing. They see I am compassionate and that I care.
While she says yoga has been
a gift to her own well-being, the experience has also enhanced her approach to work. As the lead in the BC RCMP Federal Policing Wellness unit, she and the team she works with take an innovative and accountable approach to looking after their colleagues. Research has shown that police officers and those civilians working inside that environment, sometime experience Operational Stress Injuries.
That’s where Cpl. MacLean and her team come in. Enabling easy access to the many components that go together to make work life balance in policing manageable, rewarding and interesting. The wellness unit has a wrap around approach to ensuring that employees are psychologically, emotionally and physically supported at work.
She has been on the frontline at the White Rock and Surrey RCMP detachments, Proceeds of Crime, and worked with the Community Response unit on a project in Newton that helped people housed outside and were addicted to drugs or working the streets.
We helped one woman exit the street life and she’s now a drug and alcohol counsellor. The woman keeps in touch via an annual phone call with Cpl. MacLean and the team that helped her overcome the challenges she previously faced.
A mother to four children from university age to elementary school, how Cpl. MacLean manages her schedule is no secret to her. She’s says she has always been supported by her husband, family, in-laws and also by the RCMP and the supports it provides to its employees.
Cpl. MacLean has been a member of the RCMP for nearly 20 years. Her husband is also a member as was her dad, ex-husband, and brother.
My son jokes that policing is the family business.
And Cpl. MacLean wouldn’t have it any other way.
BC RCMP Media Relations
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