“It changes your perspective”: How Cst. Sahar Manochehri overcame adversity on her path to the RCMP

Burnaby

2024-03-08 07:19 PST

Cst. Sahar Manochehri wearing a Red Serge outdoors beside pink flowers

March 8 is International Women’s Day, a day to celebrate and acknowledge the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women across the world. 2024 also marks 50 years since the first troop of women joined the RCMP. This year, the Burnaby RCMP is highlighting Cst. Sahar Manochehri, who works with the detachment’s Police Mental Health and Homelessness Outreach Team (PMHOT).

Throughout her life, Cst. Sahar Manochehri has always been motivated by helping others.

For me, it’s somewhat cultural. Growing up in a Persian family, my parents really taught me to give back to the community, Manochehri said.

First inspired by her school liaison officer in North Vancouver, Manochehri knew she wanted to be a Mountie from the time she was a teenager. But the desire to serve her community as a police officer faced a major roadblock when her family moved back to Iran when she graduated highschool in the 1990s.

Cst. Sahar Manochehri smiles outdoors beside a police SUV on a rainy day

The move was, in part, an effort by her family to stop Manochehri from pursuing a career in policing.

At the time, my father, who had served in the military himself, had a very traditional mentality around gender roles. He felt policing was too dangerous for women. Back then he felt a woman should be a wife, a mother, and stay at home, she said.

Manochehri got married during this time, but faced years of domestic violence in her relationship.

Despite what felt like impossible circumstances, she never gave up on the idea of becoming a police officer.

Breaking barriers

Manochehri divorced and moved back to Canada in 2007, working in hospital security. She applied to the RCMP twice but was unable to join in both instances.

In 2019, she applied to the RCMP for the third time. This time, she was accepted.

I was beginning to wonder if it would ever happen for me, and while this was always my dream, the training at Depot was still a huge challenge. I was in my mid-40s by then and had to keep up with younger recruits. While it may not be easy to go through the process when you’re a bit older, it’s still possible.

Once posted to Burnaby and working as a frontline officer, Manochehri began to see some of her most difficult life experiences as an asset that helped break down barriers in connecting with people, including women facing intimate partner violence.

It changes your perspective and it’s helped me understand lot of things our clients might be going through. Especially having experienced something like domestic violence myself, it helps you relate to certain situations in a different way as a police officer, she said.

A warming the homeless package with various items including a toque and gloves beside a Christmas tree

The desire to help

In 2023, Cst. Manochehri joined Burnaby RCMP’s Police Mental Health and Homelessness Outreach Team, which works closely with partner agencies to assist people across the city experiencing homelessness and mental health issues.

For Manochehri, the job is a perfect fit, as it allows her to create relationships and connect directly with some of the most vulnerable people in the community, something she’s also passionate about outside of her role as a police officer.

In 2014, she and her now-husband, who also works for the RCMP, founded an organization called Warming the Homeless, which collects donations then assembles and distributes care packages, including items like socks, toques, gloves and hygiene products to people experiencing homelessness.

Link: Warming the Homeless

The reach of the program has expanded significantly over the past decade, and the packages are now distributed by police forces, fire departments, and other agencies such as shelters in several cities across the Lower Mainland, including in Burnaby.

It might seem minor, but something as simple as a brand new pair of socks can make a huge difference for someone. It allows us to touch someone’s heart, including those who may feel forgotten by society, she said. Kindness goes a long way.

Reflecting on her journey

Cst. Sahar Manochehri walks outdoors in her frontline uniform carrying a cold weather care package

Despite the adversity she has faced in her life, Manochehri always remained fuelled by her desire to help others, and has continuously proved people wrong along the way.

My father especially, who didn’t want me to be a police officer, is now the most proud RCMP dad. He cried tears of joy when I graduated. His view of women in policing has changed completely, Manochehri said.

While I may have had a later start in this career than others, I want to send the message to all women that they can still do it. I’m proof it is possible. There are women in the RCMP from all backgrounds and cultures. Each one of us brings unique abilities and the power of our own story.

Released by:

Burnaby RCMP
6355 Deer Lake Avenue, Burnaby, BC, V5G 2J2
Office: 604-646-9900

Email: burnaby_rcmp_media@rcmp-grc.gc.ca
Website: burnaby.rcmp-grc.gc.ca (English only)

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