By Sub-Lieutenant Andrew J. McLaughlin, 31 Canadian Brigade Group Public Affairs
Hamilton, Ontario — Her steadfast commitment to the Army Reserve has often complicated traditional family events, and this is one of the first Mother’s Days that Chief Warrant Officer Tracy-Ann Fisher has been able to enjoy with her family.
“For the past few Mother’s Days, I’ve been away on exercises,” she lamented.
After a long line of appointments and promotions, she became one of the first female Regimental Sergeants Major in the Canadian Army, promoted to her current rank of Chief Warrant Officer in 2016 and taking over the position of Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) of 31 Signal Regiment, which has two Squadrons; one in Hamilton and one in London.
This year, however, CWO Fisher enjoyed a rare opportunity to spend Mother’s Day with her family – and over 40,000 Blue Jays fans. This holiday was clearly a little different than past ones spent in the field with her other family – those young Army Reserve soldiers. This time, the trailblazing RSM was able to savour the moment, although on a very different kind of field.
CWO Fisher’s husband is also a military spouse and parent. Warrant Officer Graeme Fisher of The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada (Princess Louise’s), helps raise their two children while maintaining military and civilian careers as well. Their daughter Heather is 14 years old and her son Sean is 11. They live in Caledonia, Ontario, and frequent local sports arenas.
On Mother’s Day 2018, they were all together, as CWO Fisher was honoured by the Toronto Blue Jays’ Sunday Salute. Her family was excited for the opportunity to show their mother’s dedication. After all, they have learned from their parents’ commitment.
“My children are very independent and very capable,” she explained. “They have seen leadership and independence from both of their parental roles. Our children see our dedication and commitment; and understand the importance of teamwork and what it means to make such commitments.”
CWO Fisher joined the Army Reserve in Toronto as a Communicator in 1991, while most of the soldiers she leads were not even born yet, and thoughts of motherhood were fleeting.
“I joined the Army Reserve at seventeen as a summer job. I thought it would be exciting. I had no prior experience but my Grandfather was a Dispatch Rider overseas in the Second World War, and many other relatives fought there as well.”
Even she couldn’t have imagined the way things have turned out. She’s risen from the lowest Non-Commissioned rank of Private to one of the very highest, and during over a quarter-decade of service, she has earned a university education, become a mother, and served as an exceptional leader to countless young soldiers.
Even though CWO Fisher repeatedly broke barriers in her military career, she couldn’t have done it alone, she says. Being a mother and a military leader hasn’t always been easy. “I appreciate my children for their patience and understanding of the time I spend away from them. They understand my commitment and the love for the job that I do.”
She thinks this strong commitment has helped them, as well. “I believe my military experience has made them the kind, compassionate, resilient and understanding children that they are and I can only hope that they grow up to utilize those strengths for themselves.”
Strength clearly runs in the family. Fisher served in the Royal Canadian Artillery Corps, before returning to the Signals Regiment in Toronto, where her leadership qualities earned her a positions not held by many women in those days.
She served as Detachment Commander, Troop Sergeant, Troop Warrant Officer and eventually the Squadron Sergeant Major. She was deployed on Operation RECUPERATION after severe and historic ice storms gripped Eastern Ontario in 1998, served on Operation ABACUS in preparation for “Y2K,” and instructed young troops on a pioneering signals project at the Canadian Forces School of Communications and Electronics (CFSCE) in Kingston.
She has received many awards and commendations and served countless weekends and long stretches on exercises across Canada. For instance, she has travelled north on NOREX in the Arctic, and served on Operation LENTUS in May 2017 -- again supporting Canadians domestically, this time during flood relief efforts.
She earned a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Journalism from Ryerson University in Toronto, in addition to a Certificate of Adult Education from Mohawk College of Applied Arts in Hamilton. She works for the City of Hamilton as a Training and Development Coordinator for the Healthy and Safe Communities Department.