Border Services officers Erin Steeksma and Kevin Charlton inspect a vehicle at the Peace Arch (Douglas) border.

Border Services officers Erin Steeksma and Kevin Charlton inspect a vehicle at the Peace Arch (Douglas) border.

New documentary crosses the line

Border project highlights day-to-day drama at land, air and marine ports.

A show that producers say will “make you think twice the next time you consider hiding anything in your luggage” is to begin airing on the National Geographic channel today (Thursday).

And Canada Border Services Agency officer Erin Steeksma is confident it will open a few eyes.

Steeksma, stationed at the Peace Arch (Douglas) border since 2008, was among several officers who were shadowed to create the series, Border Security: Canada’s Front Line, which was filmed over several months at air, land and marine ports.

“I thought it would be a great opportunity to kind of show the general public what we do every day,” Steeksma said, of why she volunteered to participate.

“Most people only have a very limited perception of Canada Border Services Agency, because they usually only have the one- or two-minute interview at the booth, or maybe a routine examination.

This show is going to show them all the stuff they don’t get to see and will probably never get to see.”

Highlights of the day-to-day drama revealed in the series include the officers’ dealings with all manner of illegitimate travellers – from Canadian citizens with undeclared food to international drug smugglers, phony immigrants, impaired drivers and sex offenders.

Those who tune in will be surprised at the lengths people go to conceal their misdeeds, Steeksma said. The TV cameras document officers finding – among many other things – toys packed with drugs and weapons disguised as cellphones.

Episode summaries hint at discoveries of mysterious white powder and “medicine” hidden in a child’ stroller; of travellers whose past makes them ineligible to enter the country and of a surfing souvenir that raises officers’ eyebrows.

Even with eight years on the front line under her belt – she started her career in 2004, at the Abbotsford-Huntingdon border crossing – Steeksma, 28, said she is still surprised on a daily basis by what she comes across.

“Some people do go very far to hide things from us,” she said. “Almost every time I find something, I’m slightly surprised. People are innovative and they find different ways to do it.”

Steeksma – whose dad, Colin, is a CBSA intelligence officer –  described the job as “exciting, diverse and challenging.”

Border Security: Canada’s Front Line is based on the format of a similar Australian series that is now in its eleventh season. Produced by Vancouver’s Force Four Entertainment, executive producer Rob Bromley said it is how the officers get to the bottom of travellers’ stories that is particularly fascinating.

“The CBSA officers rely on technology and instincts to uncover the truth,” Bromley said in a statement. “Viewers witness real-life situations that are tense, dramatic and at times even bizarre. And of course, sometimes, they’re just legitimate travellers who have had something unfortunate in their story that triggers the officers’ interest or requires their assistance.

“It’s the investigation that’s so compelling.”

The half-hour episodes are to air every Thursday at 10 p.m.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum. (File photo)
Surrey mayor taking it on the chin during budget public hearing

So far, he’s cut five callers off during Monday’s virtual meeting

The entrance at Fleetwood Villa in Surrey. (Photo:
Fleetwood Villa resident tests positive for COVID-19, leading to ‘outbreak’ at facility

Fraser Health says it’s ‘critically important’ for people in the region to use COVID-19 assessment tool

A Surrey protest now in week 12 against a local resident has frayed the nerves of neighbours fed-up with the group’s presence. (Submitted photo)
Surrey neighbourhood fed-up with strange protest

Surrey Mounties say they’re monitoring the situation

Bhupinder Hundal. (submitted photo)
Surrey’s Bhupinder Hundal hired as news director of B.C. broadcaster

Grad of Princess Margaret Secondary now managing Global station

Surrey-White Rock MLA-elect Trevor Halford and Surrey South MLA-elect Stephanie Cadieux have each been given a portfolio as an Opposition critic. (Contributed photos)
BC Liberals give Halford, Cadieux critic responsibilities

Surrey South and Surrey-White Rock MLAs to help keep eye on majority NDP government

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest weekend of COVID-19 pandemic with 46 deaths; more than 2,300 cases

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides COVID-19 update

Fossil finds at Mt. Stephen. (Photo: Sarah Fuller/Parks Canada)
Extreme hiking, time travel and science converge in the Burgess Shale

Climb high in the alpine and trace your family tree back millions of years – to our ocean ancestors

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
32 family members respond to Abbotsford care home’s plea for staffing help during COVID-19 outbreak

Menno Home asks for relief workers for food service, laundry and housekeeping

Kettle bells sit aligned in an indoor fitness studio. (
1 COVID-19 case at a B.C. fitness studio leads to 104 more infections, 6 school exposures

According to case data released by Fraser Health, one case of the novel coronavirus carries a big impact

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Vehicles drive past a display thanking essential workers in Burnaby, B.C. on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
B.C. changing COVID-19 case reporting as virus spread continues

Manual counting takes more time, leads to errors

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Christy Jordan-Fenton is the co-author of the book Fatty Legs, which has been mentioned amid the controversy of an Abbotsford school assignment on residential schools.
Co-author of residential schools book condemns controversial Abbotsford class assignment

Children’s book mentioned amid controversy at W. A. Fraser Middle School

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka takes over as energy and mines critic for the B.C. Liberal opposition. Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick (right) moves from health critic to assistant deputy speaker. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals pick critics to take on Horgan’s NDP majority

Interim leader Shirley Bond takes seniors, long-term care

Most Read