Revealing depth & creating dialogue: R.C.M.P. Memorial Park, Mayerthorpe, AB.
Stroud, Sonja A.
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Every five (5) years a small-embroidered star is carefully stitched onto the left sleeve of a Red Serge, proudly indicating an accumulation of service in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (R.C.M.P.). Breaking the wash of scarlet with a flash of gold, that first star means so much to an officer. No longer a rookie with a junior ranking, it signifies a passage, a movement, a real commitment to devote oneself to a career in the Force. Perhaps this point may seem relatively minor but it is not the weight of the information presented that draws people in. It is more the creation of a perspective into a paramilitary organization known for its secrecy that makes such a fact appealing. I am almost certain, and perhaps even a bit hopeful that the next time you are at a public event where a typical ‘Mountie’ is present, your eyes will fall upon the red sleeves, looking for a star and upon finding one or two or none, by quietly pleased by the little secret you know. In my previous career as a Police Officer in the R.C.M.P., I often delighted in the sharing of the finer points that played a part in defining what it was to be an officer, especially with people I had known in my ‘civilian’ life or with those I had befriended while in the Force and now in my civilian capacity. When faced with the opportunity to enlighten people on aspects of the R.C.M.P., or the world of policing for that matter, I have always felt compelled to share my experiences and perspectives. With an education in Landscape Architecture, I now also enjoy sharing my experiences in the analysis of space and design when presented with that same opportunity. My research was already under way for a thesis/practicum on R.C.M.P. Detachment Design Guidelines in March 2005 when I first learned of the deaths of four R.C.M.P. officers in Northern Alberta. During the execution of a search warrant they had been ambushed and killed by the suspect who lay in wait for them. After participating in the massive memorial service that followed in Edmonton, AB., it soon became obvious to me that the focus of my research would change dramatically. Armed with the new skills I had gained from a Masters program in Landscape Architecture, I was faced with the educational opportunity to not only combine my two passions of policing and design, but also to honor the four R.C.M.P. officers in my own way.