Canadian Leaders at Sea program engages women

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Navy News / November 1, 2017

By Captain SueEllen MacGowan

The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) is engaging female leaders from business, industry and sport. Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Winnipeg recently welcomed 12 influential Canadian women aboard to sail from Esquimalt, B.C., to San Francisco, Calif. This unique experience was part of the RCN’s Canadian Leaders at Sea (CLaS) program, which is conducted several times per year on both coasts.

“I learned a lot about leadership,” said Marilyn Loewen Mauritz, Interim President and CEO of Central 1 Credit Union. “The navy is all about leadership, mentorship and ownership. These are themes you could apply to any job or experience that you are doing, so I’m taking that back home. I’ll also be thinking about all the people who are spending their time on this ship, away from their families. They want to be part of this team on this ship. I think that’s pretty amazing when you can get everyone on that team going in the same direction.”

Winnipeg’s crew proudly demonstrated some of their drills, including tactical boarding, firefighting, flood control and mass casualty treatment. The CLaS participants experienced an action-packed and physically demanding three-day/two-night demonstration of RCN operations aboard a Canadian warship.

“It’s wonderful to see that for every job, the navy is mentoring another sailor to be able to step up,” said CLaS participant Honorary Colonel Diane McCurdy of 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron, Comox, B.C. “They’re very willing to learn and they’re excited about how much fun they’re having learning.”

HCol McCurdy is the president of McCurdy Financial Inc., one of Canada’s largest independent financial planning firms and is the bestselling author of How Much is Enough? Her work with the Royal Canadian Air Force has brought her closer to the RCN and the overlapping outreach and engagement efforts underway to educate and inform Canadians about their military.

“I think Canadians need to know how much their navy and military does for them,” said HCol McCurdy. “They go way beyond the call of duty, whether it’s search and rescue or helping out in floods and hurricanes. They risk their lives to keep Canadians and others around the world safe. What an incredible team they are together. Each and every member of this crew is a leader in their own right. The enthusiasm that they have for their jobs and the level of expertise and training is impressive!”

Commodore Marta Mulkins, Commander Royal Canadian Naval Reserve, hosted the women’s CLaS participants that included Katherine Emberly (Senior Vice President of Marketing at Shaw Communications), Teresa Conway (President of Powerex), and Pamela Martin (former Director of Engagement and Liaison to the Premier of British Columbia). The CLaS participants were grateful and impressed by the program, and committed to taking what they had learned to educate others about the RCN.

 “I learned that the navy is awesome,” said CLaS participant Karina LeBlanc, UNICEF Ambassador, Motivational Speaker and Olympic Bronze Medalist. “It’s amazing to see team and leadership work at such a highly efficient level, because of their connection to something greater than their own individual selves. It’s incredible, because these people truly are protecting us. We live our lives as Canadians taking for granted the power of what our navy does for us. They work so hard in making sure that we are safe and I think we all need to appreciate that a bit more. Everyone is committed and sacrificing many things, such as time away from their loved ones, while knowing that in any moment they could be in a life or death situation. I truly don’t think that we do enough justice in honouring all that they do for our country.”

 The RCN values connecting with Canadian women to promote a better understanding of its role. These female leaders have a tremendous opportunity to share their experiences within their communities.