In the fall of 2013, BTB Founder Savannah Magnussen-Afonso and wife of a Calgary Police Service officer attended a weekend retreat for police spouses, along with 30 other spouses of Calgary Police officers. She came away not only with many new friends but also with a vision to create an organization to focus on issues that affect police families, where we could relate and support one another.
While the police department offers support to our officers, there is little support for the everyday issues we, as police families, struggle with. We endeavored to get as many spouses & family members together as are interested in an effort to build strong relationships and successful families through experience, friendship and training. We believe if we have friends who understand our fears and frustrations, ours joys and triumphs, that we can truly be encouraged by one another. Beyond The Blue was born out of this common goal with the support and endorsement of the Calgary Police Service and Calgary Police Association and the hard work of 4 CPS spouses who endeavored to form a board of directors and create an organization that has grown to include hundreds of police families.
A core group of individuals including Calgary Beyond The Blue president Savannah Magnussen-Afonso, vice president Amanda Dalton, director Tara Ernst and director Mary-Ellen Hartmann took steps to make this vision a reality and started what would soon become the first of many Beyond The Blue chapters across Canada.
In 2016, after collaboration with the York Regional Police Service’s Peer Support Unit, York Beyond the Blue was created – and thus Canada Beyond The Blue – uniting police families from opposite ends of our country. The YRPS Peer Support Unit realized the need and importance of educating and supporting our members’ families and saw great success in the Beyond The Blue model.
Canada BTB welcomed Toronto as a part of the Beyond The Blue family in 2017 under the leadership of 2 TPS spouses who share our vision for supporting & strengthening police families across Canada. Toronto BTB president Dilnaz Garda and Vice President Kristal Jones. Dilnaz lost her brother, P.C. Darius Garda in February of 2016 when he took his life after battling years of mental health issues after an on the job shooting. Since then, Dilnaz and her husband, P.C. Danny Mavrou are determined to normalize conversations around mental health and ask you to join them on their journey helping officers and their families get healthy and stay healthy.
Realizing Canada Beyond The Blue would only continue to grow, in 2017 Savannah and Dilnaz began to formalize operations for Canada Beyond The Blue.
Seeing the success of the other chapters across the country as well as the support and resources available to spouses and family members of uniform and civilian officers, it was clear to some other dedicated individuals that we needed to establish a chapter in the Vancouver & Durham Region.
In 2019, Canada BTB is thrilled to welcome Vancouver BTB under the leadership of VPD Spouse Erica McKeddie; and Durham BTB President Julie Skinner and Vice President Shantel Munro are excited about the opportunities that being a part of Beyond the blue will bring to all DRPS families. Peel BTB launched in 2019 as well with great success thanks to Caitlin Alwyn and Karin Docampo-Nash.
2020 will see a BTB Chapter created for the Ontario Provincial Police thanks top the vision of Jacqueline Sbeyti & Melissa Heikamp, as well as and in the Niagara region of Ontario.