February 20, 2022

This week, we are continuing our discussion on Black History Month.

Many of you know that I have another job with the RCMP. As an organisation, the RCMP has been dealing with issues such as racism and prejudice towards different groups, notably Indigenous peoples but also with Black peoples in Canada. We take classes to learn about the past so that we can do better now and in the future.

I didn't have a sharing time in church this week, but I wanted to share a bit of the RCMP's history. In 1941, 2 Black men submitted appilcations to join the RCMP (they were both eligible as per the standards of the day). When deciding what to do with these applications, then commissioner, S.T. Wood directed that the men be allowed to take the written education test so "that we shall find that they have not successfully passed, as to definitely refuse them the opportunity of applying on account of their colour would raise questions of policy." Essentially, he said have them write the test as they will fail so we can refuse them because of that and not because of their colour. Neither man would become a Mountie. It was in 1967 that the 1st Black Mountie graduated from Depot Division in Regina, David Harding. He was in the force less than 2 years and was following immediately by Hartley Gosline in 1969. During Gosline's training, he recalls a drill sergeant yelling at him "you'd better by white by 6am the next morning."

During his time in general policing, he said that people who were unused to seeing a Black Mountie would just stop and stare. He worked in Dartmouth, Toronto, Jasper, and Edmonton. He even served with the RCMP Security Service Division where his service is "classified." He left the RCMP in 1978.

The first female Black Mountie was Shelley Peters who joined in 1980.

When we think of issues around race, we imagine that these happened hundreds of years ago but they didn't. And things still need to change today.

There may not be as many barriers for Black people but they are still there.

Remember: it only takes ONE voice to initiate change. Be that voice. Make that change.


Peace and love,