Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Red Wall: A Woman in the RCMP by Jane Hall

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The Red Wall: A Woman in the RCMP by Jane Hall

General Store Publishers, 2007

Since 1977, people have asked Jane Hall over and over what it was like to have been among the first few female members in the RCMP, and, like so many of her peers, she has avoided answering the question. How could one sentence do the question justice?

Finally, after years of thoughtful contemplation, she has borrowed a phrase from the father of one of the original members of the North West Mounted Police - Sub-Inspector Francis Dickens: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

But the reason for avoiding the answer, like the question itself, was a little more complex than simply not having the correct words. To truly tell the complete story, some of the bad as well as the good must be told; and that was why senior female members like Ms. Hall had chosen to remain silent, fearing that any abbreviated response could be misinterpreted or subverted to unfairly attack the RCMP. After all, it was the RCMP who broke new social and professional ground when it decided: “In the absence of any empirical evidence to the contrary, the assumption had to be that females would be capable of performing all the diversified duties in the Force equal to the males.”

The RCMP, the embodiment of the Canadian national identity, levelled the professional playing field for women, and by doing so, in this unprecedented leadership role the RCMP catapulted the women’s movement forward, impacting the lives of women throughout North America--and quite possibly the world.

Says Jane Hall: “It is time to break the silence; time to acknowledge our successes and our failures. Time to move forward.”

Cover image by Morgan Hall.