Sergeant Myra James (retired) is both a path-maker and trail blazer.
Myra joined the Hamilton Police in 1988. It was evident Myra possessed leadership skills from day one when she was appointed BC41 Class Leader at the Ontario Police College. During her successful 30 years of service, she held various positions from uniform, a road Supervisor, Sex Crimes Investigator, Crime Stoppers Coordinator, Breath Technician, and a Traffic Officer, and Crime Manager. Myra was one of four women who ever rode a Motorcycle in the 186 year history of the service. Myra was seconded later in her career to the Ontario Police College where she was a Police Vehicle Operations instructor. Her secondment was such a highlight that on retirement she continues to work on a contractual basis with the college.
To say Myra has dedicated her career to advocating for women in policing would be an understatement. The Ontario Women in Law Enforcement early conversations began in 1995-1996 with a small group of women Myra was acquainted with. Had it not been those conversations, OWLE would not have become to fruition in 1997. Myra has held various positons within OWLE from Treasurer, Vice President and President. After stepping down as President, Myra joined the OWLE Board of Trustees where she continues to serve today. During her time on the Board of OWLE, Myra was also involved with the International Association of Women Police (IAWP). Myra held numerous positions from Affiliate Liaison, 3rd and 2nd Vice President as well as Region 11 Coordinator (Eastern Canada). Myra now serves as the Editor for the IAWP WomenPolice Magazine.
Myra has been recognized for her volunteer work and has received countless awards from both OWLE and IAWP. She has been recognized twice with the IAWP Presidential Award, the IAWP Above and Beyond Award, Mentor of the Year for both IAWP and OWLE and she has won the City of Hamilton Status of Woman Award. Myra received the Queens Diamond Jubilee, and the Rotarian Paul Harris Fellowship Award. The highest Award bestowed to any Rotarian.
Service above Self is a mantra Myra lives by. In 2005, 12 women had logged a complaint against a male supervisor. Concerned for privacy, most were uncomfortable coming forward and sharing their story. Myra became their voice and for five years advocated on their behalf. Five years is a significant amount of time to devote to any cause. At a personal sacrifice for her own career (my words not hers) Myra rallied behind these women and held them up, when they did not have the will to continue with the long drawn out process. This is merely one act of hundreds Myra has done. Myra brought a Women in Law Build (WIL Build) to Hamilton in partnership with Habitat Hamilton after participating in a similar build in Ottawa. Myra’s WIL Build was so successful, after retirement she began to serve on the Board of Directors of Habitat. Even at her retirement party, she asked for donations towards a fundraiser campaign to help women who enter shelters.
So it is only fitting that Myra would be given the IAWP 2019 Heritage Award. The Heritage Award is the highest honour IAWP can bestow upon their members. Myra has touched the lives of more police women globally than any other person I have met. Her lifelong friendships are a testament to her character and I am thankful to call her a friend.