Thanks to those who blazed the trail

Jennifer George is a constable with 11 years' service, currently working in the Toronto West Detachment in Ontario. She wanted to thank all the women who had donned the red serge and paved the way for women like her.

It is hard to believe it was only 40 years ago that the RCMP accepted women into the Force as police officers. When I joined 11 years ago, I thought of my application as my right; I was lucky to have not known a time when it was not. I am privileged to be part of the RCMP in this day and age, when women are active and respected police officers. I am also honoured to have the opportunity to thank the women who have made this possible for me and others.

I have enjoyed reading the articles on about the history of women in the Force. It has allowed me to reflect upon the courage these women had entering into this demanding job, and their willingness to work through the challenges that come with working in a male-dominated career. Many of the articles painted a clearer picture of the trials and tribulations female RCMP officers have faced over the decades.

I'm thankful for many of the changes they fought for to make our Force one where equality matters. For instance, I am thankful that in the '90s the Force decided to issue women the standard RCMP uniform and that the purse and pillbox caps were done away with. The thought of them is funny but they were not practical at all and would have been a constant reminder that women were treated differently from their male colleagues.

I am thankful these women who came before me were brave enough to face the "pushback" and work through discrimination to prove we are qualified and able, that we can do the same job as male officers. It is because of these amazing women, and all of the others along the way, that women are found in a vast variety of different roles in the RCMP today.

The articles in this series only scratched the surface of the barriers that have been broken. As a member of the RCMP, I have had the opportunity to meet and hear the journeys of many female members. I am grateful to have been able to learn from their experiences, as they shared their advice, knowledge, humour and support.

Thank you to all women who joined the RCMP in those early years and to those men who welcomed and encouraged them. You have truly paved the way for women today to enter a more accepting Force. Your determination and courage broke down barriers for me and all women who have joined the force since.

Cst. Jennifer George
Toronto West Detachment, "O" Division RCMP

Read the previous In Focus, Female First and Meet Troop 17 features

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