Dr. Bonnie Reilly Schmidt held a variety of positions in the workforce as a waitress, factory worker, clerk-typist, and receptionist before being hired by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) as a special constable in 1977. For ten years she was employed as a criminal surveillance specialist in Vancouver, British Columbia.
After leaving the police force in 1987, she was engaged in secretarial and administrative work in the non-profit sector. In 1998, she returned to school to further her education. She enrolled in the Bachelor of Arts program at the University of the Fraser Valley
where she focused on earning a major in English. A few semesters prior to graduation, however, she took a class in British history which reignited a long-standing interest in historical events and people. Several history courses and one additional semester later, Bonnie graduated in 2004 with a Bachelor of Arts degree with two majors, one in English and one in History.
That same year, Bonnie won a scholarship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada to pursue a Master of Arts degree in the history program at Simon Fraser University. Her Master’s thesis, “Print and Protest: A Study of the Women’s Suffrage Movement in Nineteenth-Century Periodical Literature,” was completed in 2005.
In 2006, she was awarded another scholarship by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council to pursue doctoral studies, also at Simon Fraser University. Her experiences as a former police officer, coupled with her passion for the history of women of the RCMP, contributed to her decision to specialize in the field of women in Canadian law enforcement. Her dissertation, titled “Women in Red Serge: Female Police Bodies and the Disruption to the Image of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police,” was completed in October 2013.
Bonnie received her PhD in Canadian History in June 2014 and was the recipient of the Dean’s Convocation Medal for Academic Excellence. She was also voted one of the University of the Fraser Valley’s Top 40 Alumni in October 2014. Her first book Silenced: The Untold Story of the Fight for Equality in the RCMP was published by Caitlin Press in September 2015.