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Craig Gibson


Reason for inclusion/ first: First Black-Canadian RCMP Commanding Officer.

Bio/ Key facts: DOB, DOD, Place of birth, occupation: Craig Gibson was born in 1957 in Gibson Woods, Nova Scotia. He joined the RCMP in 1980 and in 2012 became the first Black Commanding Officer.

Early years/ motivations: The small, Black community of Gibson Woods, where Chief Superintendent Craig Gibson was born and raised, is the legacy of his father’s family who settled the land after the American Revolution. One of nine children, Craig was raised mainly by his mother, Isabelle. His father, Charlie, was among the earliest Black train conductors and traveled for 2-3 days at a time. In spite of the challenges this posed, both his father and mother were important role models who taught their children the value of family and community.

Law enforcement was also somewhat of a family tradition. As a young child, Gibson grew up surrounded by family members who were in the field, and the only career paths he dreamed of were the RCMP or the NHL. Driven by a desire to give back to the community, he chose the RCMP, a decision he says he has never regretted.

After completing the RCMP Training Academy in 1980, Gibson began policing in rural Gull Lake, Saskatchewan followed by a two-year posting to Prince Edward Island. He returned to his home province of Nova Scotia in 2001 as an Inspector in charge of traffic services. A self-declared “people person”, he stated in an interview with The Guardian that he “enjoyed policing in the smaller communities, get[ting] a chance to know people, getting involved not only when I was on duty but when I was off duty as well.’’

In total, Gibson has served in five different provinces and has wide ranging experience including general duties, highway patrol, staffing and personnel, instruction, recruitment, detachment commander and executive officer to the commissioner.

Key accomplishments/ contributions: In 2012 Gibson assumed command of “L” Division, Prince Edward Island, becoming the first Black Commanding Officer in the 92 year history of the RCMP. And while he sees himself as a member of the RCMP who is black rather than a black man in the RCMP, he does not ignore the significance of his historic appointment. He mentors other racialized members in the RCMP, encouraging them to try and advance their careers.

Over the course of his 30 plus years of service, Gibson has not only fostered diversity within the RCMP ranks but also launched inclusive initiatives like Safe Homes, Safe Communities to promote safety and security for all Canadians. A proponent of community policing, Gibson believes it is crucial that RCMP members develop people skills alongside traditional policing techniques. “Members have to be lawyers, social workers, and doctors,” he said during an interview with Nova News.  

Widely recognized for his many contributions, he was promoted to Chief Superintendent in 2015. He is also the recipient of numerous awards including the Commanding Officer’s Commendation, the Commanding Officer’s Award of Excellence, the RCMP Long Service Medal and the Canada 125 Medal.

Later years/ present day: Chief Superintendent Gibson chose to leave his P.E.I. Commanding post in 2015 to become the Director General of Modernization, Recruiting and Human Resources at the RCMP headquarters in Ottawa. He hopes his work in Ottawa will continue to progress the RCMP‘s policies and ideas.

Other interesting facts: The first Black Mountie from Nova Scotia was Clarence Limeon Bodden. He joined the RCMP in 1970, a decade before Superintendent Gibson.

The RCMP does not provide an official count of the number of Black officers. However, it has said that, as of 1 February 2019, 11.4% of its members voluntarily identified as ‘visible minorities’.


African Nova Scotian Directory, Communities: Gibson Woods. (n.d.)
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Biographies of Famous Black Canadians. (n.d.)
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Day, J. (2017, September 30). Historical Posting.
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Elliott, W. (2017, September 30). Giving back: safety, community connections Gibson’s goals.
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Gerster, J. (24 February 2019). ‘Be white by 6 AM’: 50 years on, the ‘first’ black Mountie reflects on his decade in scarlet.
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On the road to inclusion: Fundamental shifts in thinking, culture, leadership styles and problem solving – all are critical to becoming an "inclusive organization." (2015, February 2).
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Paulson, B. (2015 July 16). Appointment of new L Division Commanding Officer
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P.E.I. RCMP Chief Supt. Craig Gibson moving on. CBC News. (2015 January 31).
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Public Safety Canada. (2012 July 26). Statement from Ministers Toews and Shea regarding the Change of Command in RCMP "L" Division, P.E.I.
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Roberts, M. (2009 October 13). Yes, There Are Black Mounties.
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The 3rd Annual Zoomer List: Canada’s Top 45 Over 45: Supt. Craig Gibson. Zoomer. (2012 October 1).
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