LCdr Sarah Stainton: RCN career opportunities can bring joy, fulfilment

Navy News / May 21, 2021

Lieutenant-Commander (LCdr) Sarah Stainton grew up in Dartmouth, N.S., but calls Mississauga, Ont., her home town. She joined the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) 22 years ago as a reservist, as a part-time naval officer. Recently, she was the Executive Officer, or second in command, of Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship York, Toronto’s Naval Reserve unit, and currently focuses her skills and experience on managing unique RCN projects.

“I joined the RCN in 1998 because growing up in Dartmouth, I was curious about what the East Coast fleet had to offer,” says the Naval Warfare Officer. “My granddad was in the RCN and he always spoke about his experiences and travels in a positive way, and I was looking for the same.”

The career of a Naval Reservist differs from that of the Regular Force navy. It also differs among reservists, as they often have to balance the demand of their unique civilian careers with family commitments and Navy engagements. In her civilian life, LCdr Stainton is an elementary school teacher with the Peel District Board, has a family that includes a spouse, three step-daughters, two sons, a cat and a dog.

“The biggest challenge as a Reservist is balancing your time with a civilian career and your family commitments. There are times that I have had to say no to competing interests, only because I’ve always wanted to give 100 per cent to the task at hand.”

“My job as a Naval Reserve officer is very important. You need the capacity to lead a diverse organization, and the commitment to serve your sailors is of utmost importance.”

Having had a long and abundant naval career, her most memorable highlights are of her travels.

“With the RCN, I have the joy to say that I have explored the four corner of North America; climbing a mountain in Skagway, Alaska to hiking through the rocks of Newfoundland, exploring the northern regions of Frobisher Bay, and sailing through the interior of the Great Lakes Basin. I have visited many coastal cities in the United States to finally doing work in the Bahamas on many occasions.”

“My most memorable experience is spending two weeks in Panama City as part of a joint and combined exercise called PANAMAX. Our RCN contingent worked closely to prepare information as part of the Maritime Operations Centre.”

LCdr Stainton finds that the best part of being in the RCN is the human relationships she has made over the years.

“The best part about being in the Royal Canadian Navy, are the people that you meet and work with. I have the joy of knowing someone in every major city in Canada with whom I may have trained or deployed with. The friends that I have met and the stories we have shared remind me that we are a close-knit community, despite our geographic distances.”

“Outside of the Navy, I am an avid cyclist and hockey player - both of which have been encouraged through the annual Navy Bike Ride and the Canadian Armed Forces military appreciation events with Toronto Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.”

LCdr Stainton’s advice to others, especially women, who are pondering the option of employment with the navy part-time or full time is simple.

“Come, check it out! The employment opportunities are endless and you can really find a niche that fits your lifestyle and needs. It is paid work and you have the opportunity to learn so many things. There is nothing stopping a woman from joining any trade in the RCN. Find something that brings you joy, and get paid to do it. There are so many people to meet, that will support you in your pursuits, and the challenges become rewarding, not obstacles.”