Aboriginal woman to head Saskatchewan RCMP
Yukoner Brenda Butterworth-Carr will be the first aboriginal woman to reach the top rank
For the first time in Canadian history, an aboriginal woman is taking over Saskatchewan's RCMP.
Chief Supt. Brenda Butterworth-Carr, from Yukon, will be replacing the first aboriginal man to command an RCMP division, Russ Mirasty, as the province's Commanding Officer of F Division.
"It's a bit surreal, but I don't necessary rely on that" said Butterworth-Carr about being the first First Nations woman to hold such a high rank with the force.
The mother of three and a member of the Tr’ondek Hwech’in Han Nation she's proud of her ancestry, but said it doesn't define how she got the position.
"I'm competent, I'm capable, and I have the ability to do the job, that's what it comes down to," she said.
Butterworth-Carr decided she wanted to wear the red serge when she was 13 years old — surrounded by elders and other Mounties who acted as mentors.
"It was very much about how we could influence and affect positive changes within our different First Nation communities."
She started her career after finishing high school as a summer student in Whitehorse. In 1987, she joined the RCMP as a Native Special Constable.
Butterworth-Carr has spent years working in Yukon and became a corporal in 1999. Since then she has had a remarkable career serving in British Columbia, Ontario and Saskatchewan.
Now she's the top cop in a province where relationships with police on some reserves have been strained and in a force that's been the subject of recent sexual harassment claims.
"I think as the different issues arise, we deal with them individually, and it's really truly about relying on all of the partnerships and the existing relationships that are currently in place," said Butterworth-Carr
Butterworth-Carr said her future is going to be about continuing her predecessor's legacy.
"It's not like I'm coming in and creating something new, its really about recognizing the work that's already been done because there's really some people here who are truly invested in their communities," she said.
An official change of command ceremony will take place at F Division in Regina this fall.
Mother proud of top Mountie
Butterworth-Carr's mother, Corina Butterworth, who lives in Whitehorse, remembers her daughter wanting to be an RCMP officer at the age of three.
"It was quite exciting and we’re very proud of her," said Butterworth. "She’s very focused and she really works hard."
Butterworth also said she is proud her daughter has managed to keep her Tr'ondek Hwech'in culture and heritage.
"She has always had her background and her First Nation in her mind and in her work," she said.
Butterworth-Carr a good example
Lani Elliott was also accepted in the force as a special constable. She has a lot in common with the the new commanding officer — including having early dreams of joining the RCMP
"She would have worked really hard to get where she is, and she did it," said Elliott about Saskatchewan's new top cop.
But after Elliott was accepted in the force, her path took a different turn.
"My husband at the time assaulted me and ended up breaking my legs," she said.
After that, Elliott said, she no longer met the physical requirements to reach her dream with the RCMP, but she's proud that Butterworth-Carr could.
"I do see myself in her, and I hope that other young girls will look at her and also see themselves in her," said Elliot. "She is what's possible."