Roxane Baalim (nee McGilvery) is depicted in a mural in Vermilion, AB, honouring her as a female Metis RCMP Sergeant. (submitted photo)
After 24 years of serving the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Roxane Baalim’s dedication to keeping citizens safe has been rewarded.
Ms. Baalim, who grew up in the Columbia Valley as Roxane McGilvery, has recently been immortalized in a mural that honours firefighters, veterans and RCMP staff by artist Barry Overn. She joined the RCMP in 1989 and retired in the fall of 2013.
The mural has been painted on the side of McMinis & Company near Highway 41 in Vermilion, AB.
“It was an honour, but it was also a bit surprising,” replied Ms. Baalim when asked about her reaction to being the only one in the mural depicting three people to be painted as a portrait, as opposed to the generic representations of a firefighter and veteran standing on her left and right in the image. “I didn’t have in my mind that it would be such a large mural, but it was very nice.”
The sister of Allied Arts director Keri Pullyblank had worked with Ms. Baalim for a few years, while serving in Lac La Biche and Athabasca. Ms. Pullyblank, who was organizing the mural project, felt it was important to show diversity in the three figures painted on the mural and believed Ms. Baalim could be the perfect addition to the project as a woman with Metis heritage who later rose to Sergeant in Pincher Creek, AB.
“I think that certainly as a female (RCMP) member, and then you add another component of being Metis, adds another dimension to the job,” explained Ms. Baalim. “I always enjoyed working with all of the First Nation communities. I did a lot of work in First Nation communities and I really enjoyed it.”
Ms. Baalim agreed to provide some reference pictures for Mr. Overn to use as a starting point for the mural.
“I got a message from a fellow co-worker and friend (who) was driving through Vermilion,” explained Ms. Baalim, noting the project was completed. “She took a picture and sent it to me, saying, ‘Hey, I just saw you on this wall’.”
Ms. Baalim was surprised to receive the message, as she had not yet received word from Allied Arts to indicate its completion.
“I served up in that area up in Lac La Biche and Athabasca, but not actually right in Vermilion,” she added with a chuckle. “So I don’t have any connection to Vermilion itself.”
But now Ms. Baalim plans to take a trip to Vermilion to see the mural with her sister, Debra Fisher, and their mother, Ev McGilvery, both of whom still reside in the Columbia Valley.
“We’re planning to do a little bit of a family trip to have a look at it,” said Ms. Baalim. “We were hoping to do it this fall, but fall is quickly getting away on us, so it will depend on everybody’s schedule. It might be next spring.”
Related link: Columbia Valley Pioneer