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Les Vonkeman (Class of 1987)

Les Vonkeman has spent most of his life in Southern Alberta. Being born into a Cree family in the 1960’s, Les was a part of the 60’s scoop, which resulted in the government removing him from his birth family and Les being adopted into the Vonkeman family in Iron Springs. He attended Immanuel, graduating in 1987.

In 2000, Les applied to the Lethbridge College for the Criminal Justice Program and then entered the Lethbridge Police Service in January 2001. He spent the first ten years of his career on the streets as a patrol officer and then moved into the position of Diversity Liaison Officer in 2011.

As Diversity Officer, Les was given the opportunity to learn about his Indigenous culture. This began a journey for him which has included reconnecting birth family. Les has also created programs to bring Indigenous and non-Indigenous together, which benefits the Southern Alberta community. For this work, Les has received the Community Builders Award and the Queens Jubilee Award.

Les’ most recent initiative has been as a founding member of the Honouring Traditions and Reconciliation Society, a grassroots action-based organization working in Lethbridge to help spread Indigenous awareness and education in an effort to bridge the reconciliation gap.

Les remains a part of the Lethbridge Police Service, working once again as a patrol officer. He and his wife Jeanette (class of ‘89) have remained involved with the Immanuel community, with both of their daughters attending ICS, as well as many of their foster children. You can learn more about Les’ work with the Honouring Traditions and Reconciliation Society at their website, www.htrsociety.org.

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