Inspired by his father, SLt Parris tackles challenges head-on

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Navy News / February 19, 2020

Black History Month is a time to recognize the achievements and contributions made by Black Canadians that helped Canada become the country that it is today.

“It is important to highlight the achievements of members of the African Canadian community during Black History Month, because the community is small and this creates exposure,” says Sub-Lieutenant (SLt) Connor Parris.

“When a young African-Canadian sees someone being recognized for their achievements who looks like them, it can inspire hope. Representation is important and it can make people open to a career they never considered before, simply because they can now see themselves in that position.”

SLt Parris is a Naval Warfare Officer (NWO) from Milton, Ont., and has been in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) for almost eight years. One of his inspirations for joining the Forces was the accomplishments of his father, who also served Canada.

“A person that has inspired me is, and always will be, my father. He served in the CAF as an infantry soldier with the Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry for 33 years,” explains SLt Parris.

“He has done multiple tours overseas and has faced adversity that very few people have, only becoming stronger because of it. My father has encouraged me to tackle challenges head-on, and not to make excuses.”

That message was reinforced this past year while the sub-lieutenant was earning his Bridge Watchkeeping certificate, which he succeeded in doing during the Sub Commander Course in November 2019.

“The biggest thing I have learned this past year was to never pass a fault,” says SLt Parris.

“Accountability is an important part of my job as a Bridge Watch Keeper and if there ever is something wrong, we should always try our best to correct it and not pass it off to the next person.”

SLt Parris is already focusing on acquiring his Naval Officer Professional Qualification, with which he will meet all the requirements for promotion to naval lieutenant.

Given how engaged he is in his own career, we asked SLt Parris if he has some advice to offer those considering a career with the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN).

“The best advice I have for young African-Canadians who wish to join the RCN is to not get discouraged during the rough times and, more importantly, to remember to celebrate the good times,” offers SLt Parris.

“You may not be exactly where you pictured yourself as soon as you join the RCN and that’s alright. It is important to remember the goals you set for yourself and embrace every opportunity you have to learn in order to set yourself up for where you envision yourself in the future.”

Though life at sea can be challenging, it is also rewarding. It takes a certain resilience to work at sea but in return, the RCN provides the opportunity to see some amazing places.

“In my two years in the fleet, I have sailed past the Arctic Circle and visited Iceland, Greenland, Iqaluit, New York City, and Miami as well as a number of communities in Canada.”