By: S/Sgt. Paul Hayle
This March, I will have completed my 29th year in the RCMP. I'm quite sure that when my parents landed in Canada from Westmoreland, Jamaica, in 1964, they hadn't imagined that their eldest son would one day don a red serge and join the ranks of the iconic Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Having come from Jamaica with little money, and much ambition, they had the foresight to take advantage of the availability of the bilingual public education in Toronto, Ontario. Hence, I became one of the few young Black Jamaican boys in Scarborough who could converse in both Canadian official languages. That foresight was one of the reasons that I chose to join the National police service over the smaller provincial or municipal forces. It later proved significant; as I began my career in the bilingual province of New Brunswick doing General Duty policing in the small town of Westfield. To be clear, I was most certainly an anomaly there!
Throughout my career, I went on to occupy a number of different positions in O Division (Ontario). This has led to my current post as Staff Sergeant in the VIP unit. The VIP unit is responsible for providing security to internationally protected persons that visit the province of Ontario (excluding the Capital region). I am privileged to lead a team of approximately 43 dedicated and professional members. Each of them exemplifies the honourable qualities of the RCMP, while recognizing the importance of the work we do; particularly given its exposure on the world stage.
There have been many incredible highlights that I have experienced while in this unit. However, spending the day as the personal security officer to President Obama would certainly be my all time favourite, while protecting Prime Minister Holness of Jamaica was a close second. What I have always loved about this position is that you are provided multiple opportunities to meet a variety of people from a wide spectrum of cultures and communities. These past several years have clearly shown that as a nation and world, we are moving towards a more equitable, ethno-sensitive way of engaging with others. This unit is an extension of the ambassadorship required to meet these new, forward thinking goals. As both a Canadian and a Black man, I am honoured to be able to serve our country in this capacity.