Category Archives: Fran Saltzman

Fran Saltzman – Jewish Marksmswoman and First Female Jewish Mountie

“I’m a marksman, which means I’m a pretty darned good shot with a gun and a rifle.” 

Today’s Jewish markswoman is Fran Saltzman, who had the distinct honor of being the first Jewish woman in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).  In a recent article she described her experiences in the 1970s:

Saltzman likened her six months of boot camp to scenes in the movies Private Benjamin and GI Jane. As if their rigorous training wasn’t hard enough, women were on the receiving end of every form of sexism, from belittling comments to outright hostility and sexual harassment, she said. Saltzman recalled that one trainer introduced them to ammunition by explaining, “The bullet is like a lipstick; the pointy end goes in first.”

As the first female Jewish officer in the RCMP, Saltzman said, “I experienced very little antisemitism… My major battle was proving that women could do the job. The issue was gender and not religion.”

She spoke of one ugly incident that occurred when her troop was taught how to use gas masks. They donned the equipment and prepared to enter a small building in which gas would be released. According to Saltzman, the sergeant asked, “Are there any Jews in this troop?” When she “proudly” raised her hand, she said, he responded, “Hmm, Aronovitch, your people like gas.”

She refused to give him the satisfaction of crying but was so shaken that she failed the test. However, she stressed, this “was the action of one ignorant, prejudiced sergeant, and was not representative of the attitudes of the RCMP as a whole.”

Saltzman is yet another example of Jews serving proudly on police forces in North America.  She is not the only Jewish Canadian marksperson I know of, but I believe the first Canadian I have covered on the blog.