Chilliwack RCMP member reaches Olympic heights

Rodzor Jean-Baptiste

An Olympic-sized dream has come true for Rodzor Jean-Baptiste, a Haitian-born RCMP officer posted in Chilliwack.

And all it took was lots of hard work and a fierce determination.

“Work hard and you will find what you want to find,” he told reporters at a news conference Monday.

Jean-Baptiste, 38, wanted to be a Mountie ever since he moved from Haiti to Canada in 2003, and found he was unable to continue his career as an engineer.

What he didn’t expect was becoming part of an RCMP team chosen to carry the Canadian flag during the Olympic opening ceremonies, or meeting his personal inspiration, Governor-General Michaelle Jean, a fellow Haitian.

“I can’t find the words to explain what were my feelings that day,” Jean-Baptiste said. “It was amazing. In my dream, I would never think that that (meeting) could be real. It was excellent.”

He was nervous about meeting the Governor-General, he said, but when she came toward him “she just opened her mouth to tell me something … and it was like, okay, I saw that I talked with a human person.”

“She is so kind,” he said. “She understood my situation. She really liked my determination.”

Jean-Baptiste said it would be hard for others to imagine the difficulties he faced achieving his dream.

After arriving in Montreal, he first had to learn English, and since he could not work as an engineer in Canada, he had to return to university to become an accountant.

But that career choice didn’t suit him, and then he read about the Mounties.

“I knew the RCMP was exactly what I was looking for,” he said.

But first he had to become a Canadian citizen, which took several years, and then he had to go through RCMP training. After graduating last March, he and his wife Myriam moved to Chilliwack with their two daughters, Patty-Isabelle, 8, and Rodmya, 5.

Myriam wanted to take the two daughters back to Haiti for a visit in January, but Jean-Baptiste thought it only fair that he keep the kids because his wife had looked after them while he was in training.

“So I just told her, ‘Go by yourself, and I will take care of the kids.’”

One day after she arrived in Port-au-Prince, the earthquake hit.

“I was unable to talk to her for three days,” Jean-Baptiste said.

His anxiety increased when he learned his brother, an aunt and a cousin had been killed in the earthquake.

“It was so brutal for me,” he told reporters.

But then fellow police officers in Chilliwack began showing up at his house, bringing food and waiting with him and his daughters until they learned Myriam was safe.

“It was then I realized I was surrounded by family,” Jean-Baptiste said. “The RCMP is my family. Their support and comfort got us through those brutal hours.”

“This is the work of each person, to do something positive,” he said, and he thanked the Canadian people for helping Haiti in its time of need.

It will be hard to top the honor of representing Canada and the RCMP at the Olympics, but Jean-Baptiste said he hopes to return to Haiti someday on a peacekeeping tour.

“I am so proud to be a Mountie,” he said. “I want to show them (Haitians) what you can become in Canada.”

rfreeman@theprogress.com