Constable Potvin’s legacy

A year ago today Const. Michael Potvin drowned while on duty in Mayo. Potvin was wearing soft body armour, a firearm, handcuffs, a baton and a duty belt when his boat capsized.

A year ago today Const. Michael Potvin drowned while on duty in Mayo.

Potvin was wearing soft body armour, a firearm, handcuffs, a baton and a duty belt when his boat capsized on the murky, swift-moving Stewart River on July 13, 2010.

That gear weighs more than 20 pounds, RCMP Sgt. Don Rogers said during a media briefing at the time.

On-duty RCMP officers are “required to wear the general duty belt at all times, and that includes when you’re operating a watercraft,” he said.

Potvin wasn’t wearing a lifejacket.

A year later, the RCMP is in the midst of reviewing its national policies on water transport and equipment standards, in conjunction with the Yukon division’s own review.

And a comprehensive Water Transport Program, focusing on equipment, vessels and improved training is in the works, according to a release issued yesterday.

The RCMP is also working on a national policy that requires detachment commanders to seek local information on environmental and geographical conditions so officers are more aware of known hazards in their area. As well, the Yukon division has been working with Transport Canada to inspect vessels and ensure regulatory compliance.

It has also purchased six new vessels to replace older ones and has purchased additional safety equipment, such as self-inflating personal floatation devices and thermal protection, said the release.

The Yukon division has reinstated water transport training, which was suspended following Const. Potvin’s death, and has provided enhanced practical training and certification on marine emergency duties and the safe handling and operation of vessels to more than 40 officers. The division has also put in place a system of “check rides” to ensure operators are proficient with the vessels they will be operating in their areas.

“I want to thank all the people of Mayo who lent their help and support to the RCMP and to the Potvin family,” said Chief Supt. Peter Clark in the release. “Sadly, nothing can bring Mike back, but we are taking all the steps we can to help prevent this from happening again.”

Today, the community of Mayo and the RCMP are dedicating a monument to Potvin’s memory at Binet Park in Mayo.

Potvin’s family, his wife Allison, the Commissioner of the RCMP, and Nacho Nyak Dun Chief Simon Mervyn Sr. are expected to attend the event.

“Mike’s death is a tragedy that has deeply saddened his family, the RCMP and the people of Mayo,” said Clark, in the release. “Our sympathies remain with Allison and their son Jack, and all those who are touched by his loss. We are hopeful that what we have learned – and continue to learn – along with the steps we have taken since the accident can help avert any such similar tragedies for our officers and their families in the future.”

Potvin and another RCMP member were operating an aluminum boat on the Stewart River when the vessel began taking on water and capsized not far from shore. The other member was assisted by witnesses who launched a boat to rescue the police officers. Potvin disappeared below the water while swimming to shore and did not resurface. An extensive search by RCMP, local agencies and the public was unsuccessful. The body of Potvin was recovered on July 30, 2010, approximately 50 kilometres downstream.

Contact Genesee Keevil at

gkeevil@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Maria Metzen off the start line of the Yukon Dog Mushers Association’s sled dog race on Jan. 9. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Mushers race in preparation for FirstMate Babe Southwick

The annual race is set for Feb. 12 and 13.

The Yukon government is making changes to the medical travel system, including doubling the per diem and making destinations for medical services more flexible. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Subsidy for medical travel doubled with more supports coming

The change was recommended in the Putting People First report endorsed by the government

Chloe Sergerie, who was fined $500 under the <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> on Jan. 12, says she made the safest choice available to her when she entered the territory. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Woman fined $500 under CEMA says she made ‘safest decision’ available

Filling out a declaration at the airport was contrary to self-isolation, says accused

The Yukon Department of Education building in Whitehorse on Dec. 22, 2020. Advocates are calling on the Department of Education to reverse their redefinition of Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) that led to 138 students losing the program this year. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
Advocates call redefinition of IEPs “hugely concerning,” call for reversal

At least 138 students were moved off the learning plans this year

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Your Northern regulatory adventure awaits!

“Your Northern adventure awaits!” blared the headline on a recent YESAB assessment… Continue reading

Yukoner Shirley Chua-Tan is taking on the role of vice-chair of the social inclusion working group with the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences’ oversight panel and working groups for the autism assessment. (Submitted)
Canadian Academy of Health Sciences names Yukoner to panel

Shirley Chua-Tan is well-known for a number of roles she plays in… Continue reading

The Fish Lake area viewed from the top of Haeckel Hill on Sept. 11, 2018. The Yukon government and Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) announced they are in the beginning stages of a local area planning process for the area. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Local area planning for Fish Lake announced

The Government of Yukon and Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) announced in… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Fire damage, photographed on Jan. 11, to a downtown apartment building which occurred late in the evening on Jan. 8. Zander Firth, 20, from Inuvik, was charged with the arson and is facing several other charges following his Jan. 12 court appearance. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
More charges for arson suspect

The Inuvik man charged in relation to the fire at Ryder Apartments… Continue reading

The grace period for the new Yukon lobbyist registry has come to an end and those who seek to influence politicians will now need to report their efforts to a public database. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Grace period for new lobbyist registry ends

So far nine lobbyists have registered their activities with politicians in the territory

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21, 2020. Some Yukon tourism and culture non-profit organizations may be eligible to receive up to $20,000 to help recover from losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Details released on relief funding for tourism and culture non-profits

Some Yukon tourism and culture non-profit organizations may be eligible to receive… Continue reading

Most Read