Meet Debbie Bodkin

Debbie Bodkin is a one of a kind speaker, who inspires audiences to take action

Whether she is speaking about her work as a human rights investigator or as a mental health advocate, her expert storytelling captivates audiences with lived experiences of human resilience, strength and kindness in the midst of crisis and trauma. 

Debbie worked for NATO, United Nations, the Canadian Inquiry into Missing & Murdered Women and other Non-Government Organizations.

Working in Kosovo, Chad, Sudan, Rwanda, the Ukraine and Bangladesh, Debbie listened to countless stories of the worst of human cruelty and suffering, but was continually inspired by the kindness, hope and strength she discovered in the victims she interviewed.

Debbie’s honesty, personal approach and heart-felt contribution creates a dynamic and unforgettable experience for all who are involved.

Debbie's Experience & Overseas Missions

Interviewer
The Public International Law and Policy Group, Bangladesh
Worked with a U.S. company in Bangladesh interviewing the Rohingya refugees fleeing crimes in Myanmar.
2018
Interviewer
Statement Gatherer
National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, Canada
The National Inquiry was formed to examine and report on the systemic causes of all forms of violence against Indigenous women and girls in Canada by looking at patterns and underlying factors. As a Statement Gatherer, conducted recorded interviews with survivors and family members.
2017
Statement Gatherer
Mental Health First Aid Instructor (2014 to present)
Mental Health Commission Canada
The MHFA Canada program aims to improve mental health literacy, and provide the skills and knowledge to help people better manage potential or developing mental health problems in themselves, a family member, a friend or a colleague.
2014
Mental Health First Aid Instructor (2014 to present)
Election Observer
Ukraine Election Mission, Ukraine
Attended polling stations across the country prior to and on Election Day with the mandate of observing, recording and reporting the activities of officials and anything procedurally or ethically inappropriate.
2014
Election Observer
Retired from Police Services after 20+ years of Award-Winning Service
Waterloo Regional Police Services, Canada
Sergeant: Major Case Unit, Crisis Negotiations Team, Homicide Unit, Intelligence Unit, Uniformed Patrol.
Detective: Criminal Investigations Branch, Drug Investigations Branch, Undercover Operator, Witness Assistance and Relocation Officer.
Constable: Uniform Patrol.
2010
Retired from Police Services after 20+ years of Award-Winning Service
Observer
Canadian Centre for Genocide Studies, Rwanda
Attended meetings with the Minister of Justice, Commissioner of Rwandan Police, Rwanda Centre for Genocide Studies, and the 2009 Genocide Memorial. Spoke with survivors of the 1994 genocide.
2009
Observer
Investigator / Interviewer
United Nations, Commission of Inquiry, Sudan
Interviewed war crimes victims and perpetrators. Prepared detailed statements based on interviews conducted with the assistance of interpreters. Also assisted with the Commission’s final report.
2005
Investigator / Interviewer
Investigator / Interviewer
Coalition for International Justice, Chad
Interviewed Sudanese refugees on difficult topics that included abduction, rape, expulsion and murder. Completed U.S. State Department-issued questionnaires.
2004
Investigator / Interviewer
Scenes of Crime Officer
International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Kosovo
Documented bodies and evidence retrieved during exhumation and autopsy, with a multidisciplinary team.
2000
Scenes of Crime Officer

Tolerance - Understanding - Empathy

As a female in the male dominated career of policing, Debbie thought she had mastered the art of being tough and keeping it together. She had gained the respect of her male colleagues and withstood heart-breaking case details. She thought that she had heard and witnessed the worst of the worst and was okay.  

But, one day she hit her breaking point and had some trouble keeping all her emotions intact. Her carefully monitored tough shell crumbled. She suffered from depression and post-traumatic stress. In time she discovered that counselling and talking about her experiences helped her heal her psychological wounds.


When an unplanned opportunity presented itself, Debbie decided to take early retirement. Her mental health experience had taken a toll on her so when her OPP husband was promoted and transferred to a new location in 2011, she retired as a Sergeant after 24 years of policing and moved to Bruce County.  


After taking some time to heal, Debbie began to pursue other ventures. She began studying mental illness and taking as many related courses as possible. She became involved with the Canadian Mental Health Association for Grey Bruce as a Director and President on the Volunteer Board, began to instruct the Mental Health First Aid course created by the Mental Health Commission of Canada and became a facilitator of the Wings of Change Peer Support group for First Responders.  


She also became a passionate public speaker on the topics of Global Citizenship based on her police and overseas experiences and on Mental Health based on her personal experience and the mental health studies she pursued.

"Sound judgement, empathy, attention to detail and knowledge of the requirements of international humanitarian law ... patience, understanding and tolerance ... Ms. Bodkin has displayed these attributes and met these demands in a thoroughly professional manner.”​

 —Chief Investigator, United Nations Commission of Inquiry for Darfur

Awards and Accolades

Debbie In Action

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Strombo Interview

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Fanshawe College Interview

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Darfur Speech Queens Park

Debbie has done work with ...

Motivate Your Audience to Action

Debbie’s workshops, trainings and keynote speeches will challenge engrained perspectives, end stigma and leave the audience transformed and inspired to create change in the world.

Mental Health Advocacy

Equip your staff or community with mental health awareness, recognize warning signs and changes in behaviour. Learn how to respond and guide individuals to appropriate resources and support. Help end the stigma.

Global Citizenship

Explore what it means to be a global citizen.

Develop and grow global thinking skills necessary for the 21st century. Call your audience to action.

Reach out to Debbie Here!

Request a video chat with Debbie, to learn more about her  adventures and what she can offer.