Sergeant Chris Hrnchiar: a model for accountability and redemption

Unfortunately, there’s a familiar pattern to how many people act after they make a mistake. They deny, they cite technicalities, they do everything except take responsibility for their actions. That’s why the story of Chris Hrnchiar is so remarkable.

The Ottawa police sergeant faced disciplinary action after making online comments about the death of Inuit artist Annie Pootoogook. Instead of fighting the charges, he pleaded guilty. Hrnchiar turned and made a tearful apology to the people he hurt. It could have ended there, but Hrnchiar went much further. He reached out to the indigenous community to learn about their circumstances. He’s attended countless meetings and events. None of this could have been easy, but he did it anyway. And people like Veldon Coburn, the father of Pootoogook’s biological daughter, have helped his path to redemption with their open-mindedness and forgiveness. This week, Hrnchiar, Coburn and Coburn’s daughter shared a boat in an indigenous flotilla.

Ultimately, what defines us is not whether we make mistakes or have biases, but whether we take responsibility for them and seek to overcome them and use the opportunity to do some good. Chris Hrnchiar has become a model for accountability and redemption. Many of us could learn from his powerful lesson.

Listen for 60 Seconds with Sutcliffe weekdays at 6:20 am, 8:20 am, 4:20 pm and 6:20 pm on 1310 NEWS. And join me and my guests on Ottawa Today, featuring discussion and analysis of the big stories of the day, weekdays from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm.