Honouring Women in Uniform: Commemorating 50 Years of Service

On May 23, 2024, a significant milestone in the history of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) was celebrated with the unveiling of a special plaque, marking 50 years since the swearing-in of women as Regular Members in the Force. This commemoration pays tribute to the courage, dedication, and trailblazing spirit of the women who paved the way for future generations within the RCMP.

As the ceremony commenced, Veterans Affairs Canada Minister Petitpas-Taylor, Deputy Commissioner Boudreau, Ottawa Division Vice-President Luisa Russo-Lemay, retired Commissioners Bev Busson and Brenda Lucki, and veteran Christine Windover were invited to come forward and participate in the unveiling, representing a diverse array of individuals who have played pivotal roles in the advancement of women in the RCMP. On this very day, May 23rd, in 1974, Commissioner Maurice Nadon announced a historic decision on the 101st anniversary of the Force: the RCMP would begin recruiting women candidates for uniformed regular member police officer positions.

Thirty-two courageous women from across Canada were simultaneously sworn in on September 16, 1974, as Troop 17, marking the dawn of a new era in the RCMP's history. Their journey began at Depot Division in Regina, where they underwent rigorous training before being assigned to serve in detachments throughout the country upon graduation in March 1975. Despite facing challenges from outdated uniforms and cultural resistance within the organization and society at large, these pioneering women proudly stood shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts, performing the full range of policing duties and demonstrating unwavering dedication to their service.

Tragically, some paid the ultimate sacrifice, their names forever etched on the RCMP Honour Roll as a testament to their bravery and sacrifice. In December 2006, the culmination of this legacy was realized when Beverley MacDonald, now Senator Bev Busson, an original member of Troop 17, was appointed as the 21st RCMP Commissioner, becoming the first woman to lead the entire Force. Her appointment symbolized the progress made over the decades and the continued advancement of women within the RCMP.

Today, women regular members constitute more than twenty percent of the uniformed police service, rising through the ranks from Constable to Commissioner, and making invaluable contributions to policing efforts across Canada and around the world. Their professionalism, dedication, and service are held in high regard by the public and their peers, reflecting the enduring legacy of women in uniform within the RCMP.

As we unveil this plaque to honour 50 years of women's service in the RCMP, may it serve as a reminder of the strides made, the challenges overcome, and the ongoing commitment to equality, diversity, and excellence within the Force.

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