Breaking barriers and celebrating achievement: Burnaby RCMP recognizes International Women’s Day

burnaby.rcmp.ca

2022-03-07 13:20 PST

March 8 marks International Women’s Day: a day to recognize the contributions and leadership of women, including in the workplace.

International Women’s Day also provides time to reflect on the challenges and barriers women across the world continue to face.

It has been 47 years since the first troop with women graduated from the RCMP’s Depot training facility in Regina, Saskatchewan. Since then, trailblazing women working across the RCMP have paved the way for a more inclusive and diverse organization.

The Burnaby RCMP is proud to have strong female representation in all of its operations.

The following questions and answers are from just a few of the women, including officers and municipal employees, working for the Burnaby RCMP.

Meet some of the women serving Burnaby:

Insp. Kim Bruce

Assistant Operations Officer
Years with the RCMP: 27

Q: What was your path to becoming an RCMP officer?
A:
All through high school I played volleyball at a very high level – practicing every day after school and travelling every weekend, often inter-provincially, for tournaments which culminated in eventually playing nationally and when recruited to the USA for university, internationally. When I returned home from the USA I had a new appreciation for what it meant to be Canadian. In my search for a career that would give me both the mental and physical stimulation I sought a career in first response. Policing was a natural choice and more specifically, policing in the RCMP, as I really wanted to wear the red serge and be a part of an incredible iconic symbol for Canada.

Q: Can you tell us about a time in your career when another woman offered you mentorship or support?
A:
I was an acting Watch Commander in Richmond when my mom passed away in 2016. I felt at a full stop. I came to work for my team and focused on helping them the best way I could as their Watch Commander, but I wasn’t seeking opportunities for myself. However, my efforts with the team were recognized by a female Inspector to the degree that she asked what my aspirations were with a view to helping me. I was honest – I was stuck and there was only one reason why – grief. From there, she took the time to gently push me, and support me – seeing my ability when I didn’t always see it myself. Over these last five years she has been that touchpoint, that person I can always reach to for advice, guidance, laughs, and concerns. She helped me move forward through my grief to find greater successes in my career again. This is something I still get emotional about to this day. Knowing she was there for me, championing me, was all I need to keep trying. My advice to ANYONE: when you need to take a knee, trust your gut when someone is trying to help you up. It’s life changing!

Cpl. Freda Fong

Investigative Support Team, Acting NCO i/c
Years with the RCMP: 11

Q: What has been the greatest achievement in your career so far?
A:
One of the greatest achievements in my career so far is my experience working at the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) where I had the opportunity to investigate some challenging homicide cases. The ability to get to the truth of what happened and to be able to bring some closure to the grieving families, is a job satisfaction that is second to none.

Q: What is your message to young women thinking about a career in law enforcement?
A:
We need women in law enforcement because we need to be representative of the public. We serve the public best as a police force when we can relate to and understand the people we serve.

Q: What has changed for women in policing during the course of your career?
A:
Our organization has come a long way in terms of recognizing the need for women in leadership. Many women bring strong organizational and interpersonal skills that are essential in leadership positions. Furthermore, there used to be a belief or expectation that a woman needed to change the way they were to be accepted as a capable leader. I think we are far from those days, and it is refreshing to see women across the different ranks of the RCMP staying true to who they are as individuals.


 

Cpl. Alexa Hodgins

Media Relations Officer
Years with the RCMP: 13

Read more about Cpl. Hodgins and her path to the RCMP here.

 

Q: What has been the greatest achievement in your career so far?
A:
While I worked as a Youth Officer within Burnaby Schools, I was investigating a file involving the distribution of intimate images involving students through Snapchat. The images were then shared with a group of students without the consent or knowledge of female student who willing took the photos of herself. I sat down and spoke with the female student about the images, why they were taken, and the legal consequences to the students who shared them. She broke down and cried as she had no idea the impact of sharing the intimate images of herself.

Flash forward a few years and I returned to the school for a different and unrelated investigation. While I was speaking with the faculty members, this same female student walked into the office. I recognized her immediately and she also recognized me. We chatted about that day and she told me how our conversation impacted her. She was now a leader within the school, a female advocate for her fellow students and promoted internet and social media safety. She told me that she used her knowledge from our conversation to educate other students and prevent other students from sharing intimate images of themselves.

It's very rare to find out the impact of our everyday interactions with the public. You always hope that your words will resonate with the people you are trying to help and most police officers will go through their whole career without knowing. I consider this my greatest achievement and use it as a reminder of why I joined the RCMP.


 

Aman Gill

Victim Services Coordinator (Municipal Employee)
Years with the RCMP: 10

Q: What message would like to send to young women who may be considering a career similar to yours?

A: What I want other women to know is not to limit yourself. Especially for me being a woman of colour, I had to earn my way through hard work, perseverance, and my strong belief in myself that I can do this work and can do it well. Having a network of other women, who are pushing to strive in any career, will be your biggest support. Find a mentor in the same field, by simply having the courage to ask for help, guidance, and feedback. This mentorship will create a support network for not only yourself but for other women. Don’t be afraid of the word ‘no’ and ‘no, you can’t do that’. Push the barriers; challenge yourself and do it with grace, compassion and respect.


 

Cst. Joelle Kerridge

Investigative Support Team
Years with the RCMP: 2

Q: What was your path to becoming an RCMP officer?
A:
I first applied when I was 19, but didn’t pass the test. I instead pursued a career in broadcasting which I really enjoyed. However, 18 years later, that inner desire to become a police officer didn’t go away. I talked it over with my family and thanks to their support I was able to focus on training toward my goal. When I received the call saying I was accepted into Depot, I literally cried tears of joy.

Q: What strengths do you bring to your career as a police officer?
A:
I love communicating with people. That doesn’t just mean talking to people during difficult situations, but also listening to people to hear their side of a story. I believe that compassion and respect, along with patience, are great strengths in law enforcement.

Q: Can you tell us about a time in your career when another woman offered you mentorship or support?
A:
To be honest, we have some difficult days and see things that aren’t easy to process. I'm fortunate to have such strong connections with amazing female members here in Burnaby. Being able to talk things through has been therapeutic and healing. It’s a camaraderie like no other.


 

Susan Salame

Crime Prevention Unit (Municipal Employee)
Years with the RCMP: 9

Q: What was your path to your current career with Burnaby RCMP?
A:
In my graduation year of secondary school, I was undecided on what career path or education I wanted to pursue until I took a law class. I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives and minimize the likelihood of someone becoming a victim of crime. Within a year of graduating from university in the Bachelor’s of Art in Criminology program, I started working with the Burnaby RCMP Crime Prevention Unit. Community policing resonated with me as I enjoy connecting directly with the residents of our community and providing security recommendations on how to protect themselves and their homes.


 

Dawn Virginillo

Crime Prevention Services Supervisor (Municipal Employee)
Years with the RCMP: 18

Q: What was your path to your current career with Burnaby RCMP?
A:
After university, I worked in the mental health field for a few years. When I was suddenly, personally impacted by the criminal death of a loved one, I took a complete career turn. I became determined to help others who had experienced the same sort of trauma. I joined up first as a part time volunteer with Victim Services; because I loved the work, I eventually started working full time here. Supporting families and individuals through crisis is deeply meaningful work and I am grateful for the experiences, professionally and individually. After more than a decade doing this work and after starting a family, I wanted to move into a more preventative role. Taking these learnings from working with individuals through a crisis, to larger neighbourhood and community crime prevention seemed a natural progression. Now, as the Supervisor for Crime Prevention Services I work with the detachment's public-facing teams and units to support community safety and resilience.

Q: What message would you like to send to young women who may be considering a career similar to yours?
A:
I wish someone had told me at the start of my career that compassion and care – sometimes seen as typically female traits – are deeply powerful. I see sometimes younger women act as though these are vulnerabilities, when quite the opposite is true. I think that if you are genuine in your regard for those around you, it engenders trust. If you are respectful, and genuinely care about the work and the people you work with, you will experience the same.

 

Burnaby RCMP
burnaby.rcmp-grc.gc.ca (English only)
6355 Deer Lake Avenue, Burnaby, BC, V5G 2J2
Office: 604-646-9900

Email: burnaby_rcmp_media@rcmp-grc.gc.ca

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