The Ottawa police officer facing dismissal for donating to the Freedom Convoy protest was recognized for exemplary service in the Canadian navy and commended for assisting in a dangerous rescue as a rookie cop.
As Const. Kristina Neilson awaits her fate in an Ottawa Police Service disciplinary hearing, new details are emerging about her years of public service in the military and policing.
Neilson, 41, joined the Ottawa Police Service in 2013 and previously used the last name Correa.
Shortly after joining the force, she was recognized for having helped pull a teenage girl from the frigid April waters of the Rideau River after the girl had jumped off a bridge. The girl was unharmed.
At the time, then Ottawa Police Chief Charles Bordeleau said Neilson and the other officers’ actions “represent the best qualities of our service and are commendable.”
Before becoming a cop, Neilson served in the Royal Canadian Navy for 10 years, where she was a Master Seaman and boatswain.
Aboard HMCS Regina, she deployed to the Persian Gulf on two occasions, as well as to Afghanistan.
In 2006, for her “exemplary performance in service to Canada,” Neilson was selected for sentry duty at the National War Memorial in Ottawa during Remembrance Day.
At a police disciplinary hearing Thursday, lawyers representing Neilson and the Ottawa Police Service said they have agreed on a penalty and will present it to retired Supt. Chris Renwick when the hearing reconvenes next Thursday.
Neilson’s $50 donation to the protesters who shut down parts of Ottawa for three weeks last February was revealed when a list of donors was leaked online.
Public attention initially focused on businesspeople who supported the protest that prevented many Ottawa residents from getting to work and school and kept them up late into the night with the constantly blaring horns of big rig trucks.
As the occupation wore on, police were widely criticized for their deferential attitude toward protesters, even after the prime minister and Ottawa’s police chief had declared the protests “illegal” and “unlawful.”
Torstar broke the story that police officers were among the donors, confirming that at least 15 cops from the Ottawa, Toronto and Ontario police services had contributed money to the protesters they were tasked with policing.
Neilson is the first officer to face discipline for the donations.
According to the hearing notice, Neilson’s donation brought “discredit upon the reputation of the Ottawa Police Service.”
At an initial hearing earlier this month, the OPS served notice that it was seeking dismissal or demotion, two of the most severe penalties an officer can face.
Neilson is not facing any criminal charges.
The “Freedom Convoy” 2022 crowdfunding campaign, on the Christian website GiveSendGo, raised more than $10 million in a matter of days after the protesters’ first online donation drive was shut down due to police reports of unlawful activity. The donor list was hacked and the whistleblower collective Distributed Denial of Secrets (DDOS) posted it online. The group denied it was responsible for the hack.
After Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act, banks froze the accounts of protest organizers and participants, but the RCMP denied giving the names of any donors to the banks.
According to the leaked list, Neilson’s donation was posted under the name “Bo Levi Neilson” on Feb. 6.
“I am 5 yrs. old and for almost 1/2 of my life I have been locked down. Share! Don’t share! Hug! Don’t hug! It’s confusing,” said a note attached to the donation. “When I play hockey, I wish I could see my dad smile. Thank you for fighting for our freedom. The same freedom my parents fought for overseas. GOD BLESS YOU ALL AND PLEASE DON’T LEAVE US. OTTAWA CITIZENS TRULY SUPPORT YOU AND THANK YOU.”
A 2006 report in the Victoria Times Colonist mention that Neilson was a member of her ship’s boarding party, a firefighting team leader and a small-arms instructor. She also volunteered with the Mustard Seed Food Bank and was a member of Big Brothers and Big Sisters in Victoria, the report said.
After leaving the Navy Regular Force in 2012, Neilson continued to serve in the reserves until 2017.
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