Girl Guides get RCN crash course aboard HMCS Halifax
By Ryan Melanson,
“We are Guides, all Guides
And in unexpected places
You’ll meet our friendly faces
And a ready hand beside…”
Those were the words ringing out through HMC Dockyard on October 10 as a group of young guests marched and sang their way to HMCS Halifax for a special visit.
The group of 10-12 year-old girls were representatives of the 2nd Shoreview Guide Unit of Girl Guides of Canada. They came to the base, along with three of their leaders, to get a quick introduction to the Royal Canadian Navy and some of the jobs available to young women who decide to pursue a naval career in the CAF.
Kara Doucet, a student at Dalhousie University and a long-time Girl Guide turned volunteer with the organization, said her unit is trying to introduce the Guides to a range of traditionally male-dominated jobs and activities, and push the notion that girls can grow up to excel in any area with hard work and dedication. The idea to incorporate a Navy visit came when a few of the young girls asked their leaders if women were allowed to serve in the Canadian military.
“I found it shocking that some of the girls didn’t know,” said Doucet, who grew up in a military family and has memories of visiting RCN ships as a child.
“I always found it to be an exciting experience, so we decided to take them on a Navy ship and show them that women can be successful members of the Canadian Armed Forces.”
The young visitors were excited to enter a military base and see the inside of a warship for the first time, and with the Royal Canadian Navy celebrating the International Day of the Girl on October 11, Halifax was thrilled to welcome the group at such an appropriate time. The RCN has recently set a goal to increase the representation of women in service across all trades and ranks, and the wider CAF goal is to increase the number of female personnel by one percent annually, so that within 10 years, one in four members will be female. And some of the core values of the Girl Guides, like confidence, community mindedness, and supporting those around you, as well as a focus on physical activity and healthy eating, line up closely with the values and culture of the RCN and CAF.
Female sailors from the ship led the way as the Girl Guides group toured the inside of the ship, participated in a sunset ceremony, took in a demonstration of firefighting equipment, and asked lots of questions of the sailors who stuck around for the evening to show the girls around. With a varied group of tour guides that included SLt Marisa Warner, a MARS Officer, LS Corey Aube, a Bosn, and LS April White, a Steward, the girls heard about the multitude of different jobs and roles that exist on a Halifax-class Frigate.
Francine Leach, another volunteer leader and mom to two young girl guides, said the opportunity was a unique one for the girls and something they all enjoyed, even if it involved going a little outside of comfort zones to get inside the ship.
“Some girls were very scared to climb down the ladder, but were so proud of themselves once they did it. It was a great experience for the girls to meet women who are in these careers.”