Department of Justice Canada

Department of Justice Canada

August 22, 2010 20:23 ET

Minister of Justice Announces Winner of the 2010 National Youth Justice Policing Award

EDMONTON, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - August 22, 2010) - The Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., M.P. for Niagara Falls and Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, announced today this year's winner of the eleventh annual . The award was presented at the annual conference of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) in Edmonton, Alberta.

"Across Canada, dedicated police officers work hard to instil in our youth a sense of responsibility for their actions and to help them make smart choices," said Minister Nicholson. "This year's winners have provided troubled youth with meaningful opportunities for skills development and rehabilitation, all in an effort to help make our communities safer and stronger."

This year's award winner is Deputy Chief Gary McGuigan of the Charlottetown Police Service. In 2008 he created the "Charlottetown Police Service Horse Program", an innovative program which pairs a young person in conflict with the law with a pregnant mare. Over an approximate 8-week period, the youth has the opportunity to form an emotional bond with the horse and learn a number of tangible equine-related skills. The relationship typically results in a greater sense of both responsibility and trust in the young person, as well as an improved ability to communicate with others. 

A Certificate of Distinction was also awarded to Constable Todd Snooks for his work with the York Regional Police ECOTRIP program. The project, which began in 2009, combines mentoring, wilderness training and personal skills development geared towards at-risk youth between the ages of 14 and 17. The ECOTRIP and follow-up phase provide opportunities for youth to develop leadership skills and team-building skills. York Regional Police are offering this program to youth who have successfully completed the pre-charge referral program in the previous year.

"Our Government is committed to strengthening the YCJA and we recognize that a balanced, multi-faceted approach is necessary to address youth at risk and young offenders," said Minister Nicholson. "I am pleased that dedicated officers like Deputy Chief McGuigan and Constable Snooks offer innovative programs which help rehabilitate our youth and get them on the right path."

The Minister of Justice National Youth Justice Police Award is sponsored by Justice Canada in collaboration with the CACP. Award criteria include innovation and creativity and the use of community-based resources as alternatives to formal court processes.

Also considered are effective uses of police discretion, conferencing, alternatives to custody and the rehabilitation and reintegration of youth in conflict with the law. For more information about the Award, the winners and nominees, please visit .


(Version française disponible)



The Minister of Justice National Youth Justice Policing Award was established in 2000 in collaboration with the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP). The award recognizes police officers who, individually or as a team, develop approaches for dealing with youth in conflict with the law that go beyond the formal court system. It celebrates innovative policing and serves to inform the police and wider community about creative responses to youth crime.

Specifically, the award recognizes individuals or teams who draw upon the programs and approaches outlined in the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA), including:

  • The use of measures that, as described in the YCJA, go beyond the usual course of legal proceedings or the authority  of a court, such as warnings, cautions, and referrals to community agencies;
  • Providing advice to decision makers in the youth justice process;
  • Contributing to the rehabilitation and reintegration of youth who have been found guilty of crime.

All nominees must have demonstrated a commitment to helping young people understand the impact of their actions and encourage the involvement of parents, families and communities in the justice system.


Deputy Chief Gary McGuigan was selected to receive the 2010 Minister of Justice National Youth Justice Award for his achievement in conceiving and creating the Charlottetown Police Service Horse Program. 

Deputy Chief McGuigan joined the Charlottetown Police Service as a constable in 1985. After serving in successively more senior positions, he was named Deputy Chief in charge of Operations and Community Policing in June, 2009.

In 2008, Deputy Chief McGuigan, then a corporal, envisioned an innovative program designed to develop the practical skills and the communication abilities of troubled youth by matching them with a broodmare ready to foal.

Deputy Chief McGuigan says his program "gives the participant's time to bond with the mares and to build a trusting relationship between horse and human. It is a very powerful experience for these kids to have cared for these mares and to see, when the foals are born, the very real result of their participation. They come away with newly acquired skills and tools. When these kids are given the instruction and support they need to care for the horse, and they do it and it works, you have won their trust and given them a reason to trust again."

To be considered for admission into the program, troubled youth are first referred by police to the Youth Intervention Outreach Program, rather than to the formal court system. Deputy Chief McGuigan and an outreach worker then conduct interviews with them to determine who will be best suited to take part in the Horse Program.

In his innovative approach to applying the principles of the YCJA to youth in conflict with the law, Deputy Chief McGuigan exemplifies the compassion, caring and responsiveness of community policing at its best.

Certificate of Distinction:

Constable Todd Snooks was awarded the 2010 Certificate of Distinction for his work with the York Regional Police ECOTRIP program, and his success in engaging youth, communities and police in a creative approach to dealing with youth in conflict with the law.

Constable Snooks began his policing career in 1997 with Peel Regional Police and joined York Regional Police in May 1999. In 2007, he was named to his current position as Community Liaison Officer.

Constable Snooks was instrumental in the creation and implementation of the ECOTRIP program in 2009. ECOTRIP provides mentoring, wilderness training and personal skills development to at-risk youth between the ages of 14 and 17 who have successfully completed a referral program. Participants are given a rare opportunity to discover and develop their individual capacities to team-build and to lead.

In his caring approach to helping rehabilitate troubled youth, Constable Todd Snooks is a key contributor to the effectiveness of community liaison programming. In addition to his contribution as a member of the ECOTRIP steering committee, he also volunteers his time in the program, participating in the out-trip portion and taking on the role of mentor to a youth participant. 

Contact Information

  • Office of the Minister of Justice
    Pamela Stephens
    Press Secretary
    Department of Justice
    Media Relations