Meet Your Neighbour – Michel Wilson


by Kelly Nickerson.

Michel Wilson, former commander of SPVM Station 3 (serving Pierrefonds, Roxboro, Ste. Genevieve and Île Bizard), is now actively engaged with Action Jeunesse de l’Ouest-de-l’Île (AJOI), a vital West Island child and youth advocacy group. This father of two has been in law enforcement for 31 years and lives in Île Bizard, QC.

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I’m always trying to build or fix something, so I love reading instruction manuals and how-to guides. I just bought a Yamaha motorcycle, so I’m learning how to become a mechanic by studying the manual, checking out the website and watching YouTube videos.  I built our chalet up north myself after I researched everything I could about the process; I’d never done anything like that before, but I drew up my own blueprints all the same. I always figure, if others can learn to do it, why not me? My wife Leslie calls me MacGyver at home because I’m so ‘resourceful’ when fixing things. My police force expertise as a bomb expert comes in handy for that!

We’re an outdoorsy sporting family. I love to trail-ride on my mountain bike, my wife and I kayak, and we cross-country ski as a family. In the summer we spend weekends at our cottage; if we’re in town we’re usually outdoors at Centennial Park enjoying the fresh air with our two sons.  Leslie and I both have black belts and we occasionally judge karate competitions. Montreal Kanreikai Karate on St. Charles Boulevard organized a big tournament this year with over 300 participants that benefitted the Montreal Children’s Hospital. The owner Denis Cordeiro is a super  guy and makes sure every kid goes home with a trophy or a medal. It’s more than a participation ribbon because if you’re not in the top 3, you came in fourth. Everyone comes in fourth! And they feel so proud. It’s nice to see kids who might otherwise be on the streets being part of something special.

I’m the BBQ guy at home. When we have peopIe over I always make a wide variety of foods … sausages, steaks, seafood and salads. There’s always something for everyone. When we go out to eat we enjoy Madison’s and Le Baton Rouge; the ribs are great.

My work on the SWAT team has brought me close to situations where we need to bring people – suspects, hostages, victims and police officers alike – together. SWAT is ultimately a lifesaving force, and creating an opportunity for mutual understanding is critical to defusing potentially explosive situations. I’m very sympathetic to the challenges of mental illness and troubled youth; it’s critical to intervene at a young enough age to teach behavioral and emotional control and show how their actions impact others.  That’s why I’m passionate about my work with AJOI; I get to help make a difference in our West Island community by leveraging a network of outreach volunteers that have relationships with our street kids. We work from the inside out to create a dialogue and provide alternatives. Our entire community needs to be engaged though, supporting kids before they end up as teens with too much time on their hands.

I’d love to see us raise funds for and build an indoor skate park in the West Island. Not all kids have the financial resources for organized activities, or parents home during the day to supervise them. By giving our young people a place to go with positive activities to occupy their time we could make a big difference. Le Taz Roulodôme & Skate Park in the east end is a great example of a year-round gathering place for everyone from BMX bikers to skateboarders; I occasionally bring my sons all the way out there to do their thing, and they love it. There are teachable aspects to the tacit respect and camaraderie too. For kids who don’t ski or play hockey, it would be a big win over hanging out at the mall and playing with electronic gadgets. Could we trade a few underused outdoor pools in favor of an extreme West Island sports center?

I love the new “Coffee With A Cop” program they’re now doing in Station 1 (serving Kirkland, Beaconsfield, Baie D’Urfe, Ste. Anne de Bellevue, and Senneville), where police and residents get to sit down over coffee once a month and listen to each other’s points of view, discussing solutions to local challenges together. That was always my strategy at Station 3, to bring interest groups into the station so we could listen to their concerns while humanizing the uniform. In one case we dealt with kids who had terrified a single senior living alone by throwing rocks through her window; by bringing them together the kids could see the impact they’d had on her sense of safety and security. She hasn’t had trouble since. The police can’t be everywhere all the time. For example, harnessing our collective strength to engage everyone in the monitoring of bus shelters to prevent vandalism and graffiti would be a great opportunity.

I learned how to paint about 3 years ago. I researched much of it myself online, of course! We love cruising, so I painted a cruise ship that’s hanging in our bathroom. Our next adventure is going to be a boat tour of the Mediterranean.

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My sons are accomplished painters too – they’ve done some great work. I’d have to say the piece I’m most proud of though now hangs in the Family Resource Center in Pierrefonds, another valuable family and youth support organization. A troubled boy feels helpless but doesn’t yet know his own power to prosper and grow in a community that supports him. It represents how I think about what I do… giving hope and help through mutual understanding. I donated it in the spirit of what I’m hoping to foster in our community.

Kelly Nickerson works full‐time as Senior Director of Marketing & Analytics for a Fortune 500 company, and writes in her spare time. She lives in Beaconsfield, QC.