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Trailblazers of the VPD: Women in Blue

Women in Blue is a comprehensive history of women in the VPD from 1904 (as it turns out) through 1975. For decades, VPD history noted that the first females were hired in 1912, but it turns out four matrons were hired between 1904 and 1912. The matrons performed many of the same duties as the police women who were hired in 1912.

When she began the project in 2000, Deputy Chief Carolyn Daley “glibly thought” (her own words!) that she would undertake an entire history of all women in municipal policing to that point in time. She soon found out that not everyone had the dedication to the project that she did, so she focussed on VPD only. She also quickly realized she needed to establish an end-date for the project.

So she chose 1975. While it was the same year she started with VPD, it was also the year that legislation was enacted to provide female law enforcement officers with a level playing field in Canada. From 1904 through 1975, 125 women were hired by the VPD. Today, VPD boasts 400 female officers or nearly 30% of sworn members. The Senior Executive Team is nearly 50% female (5/12).

There are lots of stories to be told about the resistance that female officers faced, not just in the VPD, but in all police agencies in Canada. However, Women in Blue isn’t about that. Rather, it is an extraordinary history of the evolution of women in the VPD. Carolyn invited women to participate on the basis that “it is not a war story book, but rather a history book” and dozens of women were pleased to share their stories accordingly.

It’s one of the reasons that Carolyn opted to self-publish. Despite initial interest from some publishers, they were mainly interested in reading and publishing the “war stories”. Neither Carolyn nor the women who agreed to come forward for this book wanted to be a part of that. Self-publishing made the process much longer, much harder and definitely much more of a labour of love.  The end-product is befitting the hundreds of women who have now blazed these trails and served the community.

This book was written for everyone – it’s an essential part of the written history of the VPD, and Carolyn hopes it inspires other young females to consider a career in what she believes is the best profession in the country. 

The VPF was proud to provide funding to support the completion of this incredible book and history of the VPD, as well as support a number of initiatives in support of women in policing each year. To learn more, click here.

We thank the generosity of the Nighthawk Foundation for funding this grant.

To learn more about the Women in Blue book, click here.

The Vancouver Police Foundation supports programs and initiatives that fall under one of four pillars: Youth Programs, Mental Health & Addictions, Community Outreach & Engagement, and Technology & Special Equipment. You can help build a safer Vancouver by donating to the Vancouver Police Foundation.

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