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Abela a newly-appointed member of the Order of Merit

Posted on February 29, 2024 by Taber Times
Times Photo Courtesy of Governor General’s office RECOGNITION: Chief Abela’s family joined him in Ottawa when he received the Order of Merit from Governor General Mary Simon.

By Cal Braid
Taber Times
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Taber Police Chief Graham Abela received a gift from his country on Valentine’s Day. The governor general’s office recognized his years of dedication and service and invited him to Ottawa to accept the Order of Merit of the Police Forces.

The Order of Merit was established in October 2000, The governor general’s homepage says it “honours the leadership and exceptional service or distinctive merit displayed by the men and women of the Canadian Police Services, and recognizes their commitment to this country. The primary focus is on exceptional merit, contributions to policing and community development.”

On Feb. 22, Abela recounted his induction story. “I was notified by the governor general’s office at Rideau Hall a couple of months ago that my name had been put forward by a nominator and that I had been selected to be inducted as a member of the Order of Merit. So, it’s quite an honour. I was kind of gobsmacked when I initially heard.”

“I received an email maybe three weeks ago saying that the ceremony for the induction would be on Valentine’s Day in Ottawa. I asked my family if they wanted to attend and they all said yes, so that meant I had to buy five plane tickets,” he said, not seeming to mind the price of being highly esteemed. “It was a great adventure. We flew out on Tuesday and Wednesday was the ceremony. MP Shields invited us to Parliament on Thursday. My family and I got to go to Question Period and we got a special tour of the Parliament Buildings. My kids really loved the National Gallery and the War Museum.”

Abela said he’s been to Ottawa numerous times for work with the police association, but it was a first for his wife and kids. He called it a nice city with a lot of history, and said his family is interested in politics. “Our kids really enjoyed learning about Question Period, and seeing the prime minister and Pierre Poilievre and their exchange in Parliament. It was the day when the Palestinian protest happened, as well as the ‘Where’s the funds’ (WTF) comments that were made by the official opposition. It was quite rambunctious.”

Abela has been in law enforcement since 1990. He started as a park ranger before moving into a role as a customs officer in Carway. He began volunteering with the Taber Police Service as an auxiliary constable in 1991. In 1994, he was hired by the TPS on a contract and moved into full-time employment the following year. He became an inspector in 2003 and was promoted to the rank of chief of police in 2016.

Bow River MP Martin Shields was present for the induction ceremony, and he issued a statement saying, “It was a great honour to be in attendance for her Excellency the Governor General’s Order of Merit of the Police Forces ceremony. Especially great to have two amazing individuals recognized from the Bow River riding, Chief Graham Abela of the Town of Taber and Staff Sergeant Mark Wielgosz of Town of Strathmore RCMP. Congratulations and thank you for the work you do in service to our communities.”

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