After nearly 35 years of public service, Wayne Brown is calling it a career.
"I started my career as an immigration officer at North Portal in January of 1983 but I was working with Citizenship and Immigration Canada at that time. I worked there as an officer and served as a national trainer and use of force instructor until about September of 2002 when I moved to Regina in an acting assignment as a manager of the Inland Citizenship and Immigration Office there."
"Then in 2003, I became the permanent manager and managed that inland enforcement unit at the airport and citizenship and I stayed there until 2007 when I was appointed to the position of Chief of Operations for the Saskatchewan District and I was stationed at North Portal. and responsible for all the ports along the Saskatchewan border and the Regina airport."
"I started in North Portal and I ended up in North Portal in 2007 and it was really a great honor, I was happy to return to North Portal. I had an exceptional group of people that are so dedicated and committed to the job so I enjoyed going back."
He adds that after 35 years, he has seen a lot of changes.
"I think the two main areas that I think the change has been significant, one is in technology and the other is in operational policy. When I started, back in '83, we had no computers. There was just a typewriter and a telex machine. We had no access to national and international databanks. Basically, we had to rely on our interviewing techniques and our ability to determine admissibility and determine if someone is being forthright and open and honest. Which, in some ways, looking back, was a great learning opportunity to enhance your interviewing skills."
"I clearly recall when we acquired a word processing machine in the office and we no longer had to type over the same letter many times to correct a mistake and no longer needed white-out."
He adds that another big change was moving from an unarmed workforce to an armed workforce.
"For a number of years we had no defensive equipment and when I started there were no protective vests, batons I think all we had was one set of handcuffs in the office. We were still responsible for enforcing the immigration legislation back then and we had to arrest borders jumpers off a train, or crossing through open fields or those who were inadmissible at the port of entry and had to be detained, I used to have to use my own personal vehicle to transport detainees to the RCMP holding cells in Estevan. I can't even imagine that anymore."
He believes that that policy has changed how CBSA officers interact with the public.
"I believe that once we moved into the armed workforce, there's much more of a need to make sure that proper conduct and how we interact with people is much more respectful and much more professional because wearing those tools on your uniform certainly requires that officers maintain the utmost professionalism."
No career would be complete without a few interesting moments. He relayed that he should have kept a journal but unfortunately wouldn't be able to share very much due to privacy concerns and the sensitive nature of his work. However, he was able to share one interesting anecdote from early in his career when the large carnival was passing through the border on its way into Canada.
"It was a big mid-way production there would be approximately 120-140 carnival workers from all walks of life that would be processed. This very large gentleman, probably 6"10' -11' and looked mean to me. He approached the counter so I said hello and asked him for his identification and he handed me his San Quintin Prison ID card, it was the only identification he had. And you have to remember, we had no defensive equipment back then and I knew I had to break it to him gently, the news that he wasn't going to be allowed entry into Canada. I believe he was convicted of manslaughter."
He continued on to say as everyone stopped to watch what he would do, he asked the man what he thought he should do?
The man responded that he figured that he was probably going to be refused.
"I just said, "I'm glad you agree." And we processed him and got him on his way and he gave me a big toothless smile and left without any incident."
He believes that by treating people with courtesy and respect and leaving them their dignity was a very import aspect of the job.
He also recounted a story of when he was a manager at CIC Regina and was involved with the deportation of Dr. John Schneeberger, a Kipling doctor who had injected another person's blood into himself to avoid DNA detection. That case received lots of attention and was later made into a movie.
As well, he has met numerous celebrities and musicians passing through the border either on tour or on their way to Craven.
"One that stands out is meeting Johnny Cash and having a chance to sit down and chat with him. It was later in his career and I thought that he was one person that was so soft spoken and humble and one person who had a presence about him."
He enjoyed his career very much so it took him a few minutes to think about what he liked best about the border but finally came back with an answer.
"I enjoyed the spontaneous and unpredictable situations that we would deal with every day. Every day was different. I clearly recall driving to work after 19-20 years on working at the border one morning and commenting how I still loved going to work and I loved my job and I believe it was because no day was the same and the unpredictability of what would happen that day."
"And I worked with a great bunch of people and the camaraderie working with a group of people who are passionate about what they do was an enjoyable part of the job too."
Wayne Brown is also the Head Instructor of the Estevan Taekwondo Club and he feels that that has influenced his career.
"I've been in public service for just shy of 35 years and I've been studying and teaching taekwondo for about 31 years. It was a great fit when I first started especially as it relates to an enforcement environment. The practice of taekwondo allowed me to transfer some of these skills to become a use of force instructor with CIC. But I think most importantly, taekwondo taught me patience, discipline and the confidence that I believe made me a better officer and a better manager. The tenets (courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, indomitable spirit) have played a huge role in my career because it becomes a way of life.
He mentioned that in the last four years, he was the head of the leadership development program for the prairie region and he believes that he was able to be successful in that due to what he has learned over the three decades of training in the martial art.
He added that he would encourage anyone interested in a career in law enforcement, to consider the Canada Border Services Agency.
Brown adds that he doesn't know if the reality of retirement has sunk in yet but he knows that he will miss his coworkers the most out of everything from his career. However, he is looking forward to spending more time with family and friends.