Retired Edmonton Police Service (EPS) Staff Sergeant Gary Goulet said he was in shock when he learned he had been nominated for the prestigious award. “I didn’t know what to say. They don’t tell you you’re being nominated. It’s all done behind the scenes.”
Retired EPS Staff Sergeant Gary Goulet
Goulet is the founder of Cops for Cancer, a charity which has raised an estimated $100 million nation-wide and inspired similar movements in Australia and Britain.
“It started so innocently and just developed into something completely different,” Goulet said. “It’s really hard for me to believe.”
In 1994, Goulet’s sister introduced him to a five-year-old boy, Lyle, who lived across the street from her. Lyle was undergoing chemotherapy and had lost his hair.
“I found out other kids were making fun of him because he had no hair,” Goulet recalled. “My head was already shaved for comfort, so I wanted to let him know that it was cool to be bald.”
Goulet took Lyle on a tour of a police station. When it was time for a photo, other officers asked if they could be in the picture. “I told them the photo was for bald guys only,” Goulet said.
Original Cops for Cancer participants, 1994 (Courtesy Edmonton Journal)
The officers shaved their heads then and there in the parking lot of the police station. National media picked up the story. Before long, Goulet was receiving letters of support from across the country. One letter, from a mother in Ontario whose child had had cancer, encouraged Goulet to challenge other police departments to raise funds for cancer research.
“And that’s what inspired me to do more. I just thought to myself, you know, maybe there is something that I can do. Maybe we shouldn’t just let it end here,” Goulet said.
Today, thousands of first responders across the country shave their heads and take part in cycling tours to fund life-saving pediatric cancer research and support children with cancer and their families.
Goulet retired from the Edmonton Police Service in 2007 but continues to fundraise and speak on behalf of Cops for Cancer. He said the service played an important role in the charity’s early successes. “I wouldn’t have been able to achieve this without the support and encouragement from the EPS. This shows how important teamwork is, as it’s not something that I would have been able to achieve alone.”
The Order of Canada is presented by the Governor General to people who make extraordinary contributions to the nation. Since its creation in 1967, more than 7,600 people have been invested in the Order.
Order of Canada appointees – June 2022