Just three certificates are displayed in Staff Sgt. Isobel Granger’s office at Ottawa police headquarters, marginally reflecting the veteran cop’s triumphs.
Recognized by the Senate, Leadership Ottawa, and Crossover Mentorship, more accolades remain tucked in folders.
“It feels kind of like cheating, in a way; getting awards for something you really enjoy doing,” said Granger, who leads the partner assault unit.
The designation she’s most proud of though, printed on high-quality stock reminiscent of a wedding invitation, is tucked away; received from the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, or UN Women.
Granger is one of 42 people in the world — currently the only Canadian — trained to investigate sexual gender-based violence across the globe.
Certified with the International Criminal Court, she’s part of a dream team of mostly female experts, including human rights lawyers, assembled by UN Women and Justice Rapid Response.
Granger attended the one-week training session in The Hague, Netherlands in September.
“What a mind-blowing experience that was,” said Granger.
The atmosphere was “so daunting. It makes you feel so small,” she said.
“I thought to myself, wow, maybe I was created for such a time as this. The ultimate trip, even as a police officer, is going to see World Court and what it looks like.”
Now, if the UN is called in, Granger will be asked to deploy to investigate war crimes.
“A lot of evidence that’s used is circumstantial,” she said.
Down the road, if someone is indicted, her notes might become part of the evidence.
“In Ottawa, if a young girl is raped, we’ll stop everything,” to ensure the wrong is made right, said Granger.
But in places such as Sudan’s Darfur, women are raped hundreds of times each day.
“It’s used as a weapon of war,” said Granger.
Women hold the honour of the family in many cultures, she said, and when a female is raped, it’s held against her.
That’s the point.
“You break down the family, you break down the community, you break down the nation,” said Granger.
Global ethics and the obligation to create a better life are paramount to Granger.
In 2006, she was invited by the Pearson Centre to design, develop, and deliver training in peace operations, working with 28 South African police officers, then traveling to other countries.
“The tools that we provided them really did enhance their capacity, because they really were making a difference,” said Granger.
“It’s amazing what can happen.”
The same can be said for Granger’s journey through segregation and policing in Africa.
At 19-years-old, she applied to become a cop in Rhodesia, now known as Zimbabwe, “for shock value.”
Educated, physically fit, and intelligent, Granger sold herself in an interview.
Stunning even herself, Granger, of mixed race, became the first non-white to join the ranks, spending five years with the British South Africa Police and Zimbabwe Republic Police.
Her peers told her, “we should not be subjected to live with you,” she recalled.
Granger thought it over, then proposed using a specific toilet and shower.
They ended up using her facilities because she was the cleanest in the group.
Soon after, while running 10K, she was forced to coach a colleague.
“I remember thinking, man, you know, this girl doesn’t even like me touching her, you know, I mean, she doesn’t even think I should be working. I thought it was unfair that I’m made now to help her. She doesn’t even look at me like a person,” said Granger.
After reflecting, “it’s not only for us. It’s for women in general,” she decided.
“When we put aside the colour and the way we’d grown up, you know, it was evident that we’re all running the same race, and it’s the human race, ” she said.
Back in Ottawa, Granger’s resolve under adversity translates well, especially when overseeing cases of domestic violence.
“When things are really, really bad, she puts things in perspective,” said Supt. Ty Cameron.
“I find she’s a calming influence on her office,” he continued.
“The investigators there are dealing with very serious matters … she comes in there and sort of pulls them down from the ceiling, from time to time, when need be, but making sure the job gets done.”
It’s a career Granger fell into on an impulse.
“I had actually applied for nursing,” she said.
Granger celebrates her 20th anniversary with OPS next year.