RCMP recruits ponder task ahead
Prepping for a police entrance exam is worth it, say two hopefuls

by Glenn Taylor
Northern News Services

INUVIK (Sep 05/97) - Phyllis Ruben's parents have always wanted her to be a nurse. But the 29-year-old has always wanted to be an RCMP officer.

After years working as a nurse's aide, and in day cares and as a counsellor, she's finally making her own dreams come true.

"I've always wanted to be an RCMP," said Ruben, "ever since I was a little girl." As a youngster, she remembers a friend of her father's in Cambridge Bay, an RCMP member, who stood so tall and crisp in his uniform. I want to wear that uniform someday, thought Ruben.

"I finally had the courage to tell my family that I don't want to be a nurse, I want to be an RCMP," said Ruben. "They were a little against it, because I'm so small. They thought I might get hurt."

Ruben and Inuvik's Colin Allen both have dreams of joining the Mounties. Both were accepted to the Aboriginal Cadet Development Program earlier this year, and are now working on their academics and athletics to pass an entrance exam, so they can travel to the Regina RCMP academy and become full-fledged members.

Ruben applied for the program a few years ago, but was turned down because of her poor eyesight. But thanks to laser surgery, and a $4,000 loan from the bank to have the operation, Ruben travelled south and had her eyes corrected. Now, all that stands in her way is her own determination.

Colin Allen has been working for two years as a summer student for the RCMP, when he finally decided to apply. "My cousin (Gerry Kisoun) was an officer, and when he came to town, he really inspired me to work hard to get in," said Allen.

"It's kind of nice to have someone like that to look up to, and to push you." He also credits parents Colin and Rita with driving him into the profession. "I wanted to make something of myself, while I'm still young," said the 24-year-old.

It's no slouch getting into the academy. Potential recruits have to pass the RRST exam to get into the program, and both Allen and Ruben are seeing tutors every day to help them upgrade their academics.

"It's difficult after being out of school for three years," said Colin.

The pair are also training hard at the local gym, to build the physical strength and endurance required to survive the Regina academy's boot-camp-like training regimen.

"I've got to work on my upper body strength ... I don't have any," laughed Ruben.

Both have decided to work outside their home communities when they first graduate, because "it's hard to work in your home town with family and friends there," said Allen. "You've got a job to do."

Ruben said she would like to return to work in the North in the future, to "help protect the communities from crime."

"I'd definitely recommend this program to anyone who wants to be an officer," said Ruben. "It will give them a chance to see what it's like from the inside."