The new top cop in Saskatchewan hails from the Yukon.
Brenda Butterworth-Carr, a member of the Tr’ondek Hwech’in First Nation, grew up in Dawson City. She joined the RCMP in 1987 as a native special constable.
She will officially be the commanding officer of the province next Monday.
“It was very unexpected,” Butterworth-Carr said. “My heart is very much mired in operations,” so it’ll be hard to “extract” herself from being on the ground, she said.
The offer of the position was humbling and is a real honour, she said.
She said she’s thought of being a commanding officer since she had ambitions to join the RCMP as a teen. “My mom said (I wanted to be a cop) since I was three,” she said, chuckling.
However, Butterworth-Carr can only remember as far back to when she was 13 and she was sitting with her cousins and friends having a conversation about how they could make a difference in society through their future jobs.
The RCMP had a good relationship with Dawson residents at the time, which influenced why she wanted to join the organization, said Butterworth-Carr.
She has big shoes to fill, having to replace Russ Mirasty. He was the first First Nation person to command an RCMP division when he started the job in Saskatchewan in December 2010, according the National Post.
Butterworth-Carr plans to build upon the work of Mirasty, who collaborated with community groups to reduce crime. That holistic approach even includes scholars. “We’re working closely with academia, the University of Regina and Saskatchewan,” she said.
Butterworth-Carr will be responsible for over 700 employees within the province. It will be a transition, but officers already answer to her as the colonel, she said.
The difference is she will be taking on more administrative roles, including human resources management, the mother of three said.
Asked if she’s ever faced criticism from the aboriginal community for playing on the other team, considering tense relationships that exist between First Nations and the RCMP, she said she hasn’t received negative feedback.
“It’s more looked at as a positive because I’m inside (and) I’m very approachable,” she said. Her First Nations background has helped her create stronger connections between the Mounties and indigenous people, she added.
Her optimistic approach has helped her overcome her challenges being a woman in the RCMP. “I’m a pretty resourceful person. I rely upon my teachings, it’s how I overcome them,” she said.
She’s sought advice from female role models in the organization, such as Beverley Busson, the former commissioner of the RCMP in B.C.
She advises aboriginal youth to do the same thing.
“Be yourself. Be proud of where you come from. You can overcome virtually anything. Surround yourself with good people.”
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