RCN building new bridges with women

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Navy News / February 12, 2018

By Peter Mallett

The Canadian Armed Forces’ efforts to beef up the number of women in the military was greatly enhanced recently by the Achieve Anything Foundation.

Using Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Ottawa as an enticement platform, 120 girls and women of all ages crossed the ship’s brow January 27, 2018 for a day sail around Vancouver’s harbour and the Strait of Georgia.

For most, this was their first encounter with a Canadian warship and its crew.

Sailors were prepared for their guests with special displays laid out in the hangar and in the ship, and an itinerary of tours and spectacles to keep everyone wide-eyed and asking questions.

The Royal Canadian Air Force played a role by flying an Aurora maritime patrol aircraft overhead as part of a search and rescue demonstration.

“Promoting the navy to future generations is very important to everyone on the defence team,” said Commander Alex Barlow, Ottawa’s Commanding Officer. “Seeing the smiles on everyone’s faces brought great pride to all of the sailors who work aboard Ottawa, and we are hoping those who joined us will share their experiences with friends and family.”

The Achieve Anything Foundation was formed to create year-round projects and programs that inspire female future leaders in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), and STEM-based fields such as aviation, aerospace, marine and defence. It was founded by Kirsten Brazier, an aviation professional with over 25-years’ experience in the commercial aviation industry as a fixed-wing aircraft and helicopter pilot. The 47-year-old founded the registered non-profit in 2016, but its roots go back to 2012 with its signature event The Sky’s No Limit – Girls Fly Too! The annual event, held in conjunction with various agency, industry and education partners is expecting over 20,000 visitors in 2018.

Low numbers of women in senior management or command positions and highly skilled trades in organizations such as the Canadian Armed Forces is why Ms. Brazier pushes for change through positive actions instead of rhetoric. She is a big believer in hands-on experience and concentrates her work on this aspect of promotion.

For the Ottawa day sail, she marketed it with the slogan: “Ladies, come drive this ship.”

“Women are a tough demographic for defence, science and technology industries to crack,” Ms. Brazier says. “If you want to get women fired up, you need to make them see there is a really awesome experience to be had on a warship.”

She adds, “I don’t want to hear women saying we need more women in the military or emergency services. I want to hear more men step up and, like [Chief of Defence Staff] General Jonathan Vance, say: ‘We want to build a diverse team that includes more women’.”

Courtesy of Lookout newspaper