RCMP Const. Nancy Saggar isn’t strapping on her Kevlar vest Monday morning.
“I’m actually nine-months pregnant, expecting my baby to arrive any day now and I’m embarking on maternity leave,” said Saggar, who is the media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP.
It’s something she never thought possible when she first became a police officer 11 years ago.
“I became a police officer when I was 21. At that time, I never thought I’d have a family, mainly because I wanted to be quite ambitious in my career. I thought it wasn’t really possible to have both,” said the police officer.
Now, over a decade later, she’s ready to start her family and continue her success in the police force, thanks to the changes that have been made over the past 50 years.
“Women only entered the police force in 1974,” said Saggar. “We’ve come along way since then. We went from zero maternity leave to six weeks, to 18 months.”
After speaking with her supervisor, Saggar said she felt supported and confident about starting a family after she was guaranteed her current position when she is to come back.
But being a woman in law enforcement isn’t as simple as just figuring out maternity leave.
“When I started, about 11 years ago, the culture was different,” said the media relations officer.
“I started off in a small northern town, I was also the only person of colour in that small northern town who was on the police force and I do feel like I was treated differently, not so much by my colleagues but by the people I was policing. Since then, fast forward 11 years, I think our Canadian society has come quite a long way, the RCMP has come a long way.”
International Women’s Day is a time to recognize women’s successes and challenges.
UVic gender studies professor Dr. Janni Aragon says the discussion must go beyond March 8.
“We need to keep this conversation going, so that we can have honest discussions about consent, about body image, those sorts of things,” said Aragon. “I think in this one day where we speak to International Women’s Day, we need to think about equity, diversity, and inclusion.”
Although changes are being made, the RCMP has faced criticism and even legal action for its treatment of women officers, including a $100-million gender discrimination lawsuit for ex-female RCMP employees.
“I know that we have had our struggles with women in policing,” said Saggar. “We’re starting to see a lot more women rise through the ranks, were starting to see promotions happening, not exclusively with men.”
With her maternity leave ahead, she’s celebrating International Women’s Day by starting her journey as a mother-to-be.
Saggar shares more details about her experience as a woman in policing in a recent video put out by the West Shore RCMP.
Another West Shore RCMP officer, Const. Elyse Patten, also shares her insights, here.