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1974: RCMP welcomes first female officers

He's a strong, brave, honest, horseback-riding Canadian in a red tunic who always gets his man. At least, that's the clichéd image of a Mountie. But with a history stretching back to 1873, the real Royal Canadian Mounted Police have always been more complex than their squeaky-clean, steely stereotype.

Though they can't wear the navy breeches and high boots yet, 32 women made Mountie history today when they were hired as the first-ever female RCMP constables. At RCMP headquarters in Ottawa, four of the women from "Troop 17" were sworn in before starting training in Regina. After kissing the bible and signing their names, the women smiled as the presiding officer welcomed them to the force and wished them good luck.

• The RCMP's decision to allow full-fledged female membership was the recommendation of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women. Prior to this induction, women had only been able to work for the RCMP in minor capacities.

• In 1974, female members wore the traditional red serge with a skirt, high heels and a hand clutch. In 1989, the uniform requirements changed and women started wearing the same uniform as men: Stetson hat, scarlet tunic, navy breeches, high boots and Sam Browne belt

• Twenty-five years later, in 1999, female members accounted for 14% of the total member population. Eleven of these women belonged to the original female troop, called Troop 17.

• Some of the "firsts" that followed this landmark were: first female promoted to corporal (1981), first female pilot in the Air Division (1987), first female drill instructor (1993)

• Since 1985, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms has guaranteed equal rights to women and men, including special measures to correct past discrimination on the basis of sex.

• "The force can only benefit from the unique contributions police women will continue to make in the new millennium," said RCMP Commissioner Philip McMurray, in a news release, on the 25th anniversary of women in the RCMP.

Medium: Radio
Program: The World At Six
Broadcast Date: Sept. 16, 1974
Host: George Rich
Reporter: Bob Johnstone
Duration: 1:58

Last updated: September 27, 2013

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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