Breaking Down The Barricades: Women in the Defence World 2018

(Volume 24-02)

By Sarina Bhaiwala, Hayley Kirsh, Jasmine Law, Adam Peace & James G. Scott

Celebrating Success: Breaking Down the Barricades: Women in Defence

By Scott Taylor

On Monday, April 10, Esprit de Corps Magazine hosted a cocktail reception in honour of those women we have profiled for their tremendous contribution to the Canadian defence sector.

On hand was a near-capacity crowd of 500 at Ottawa City Hall, including a total of 43 recipients selected in the last three years of our annual Top Women in Defence Award. The initiative began in 2015 as a way of recognizing the positive impact so many women have had in what is largely considered to be a male-dominated field. This year was the first time the magazine held a formal event to celebrate the recipients.

Although unable to attend in person as they were overseas at the Vimy ceremony in France, both Minister of Defence Harjit Sajjan and Chief of Defence Staff General Jonathan Vance sent personal congratulatory messages. Vice-Admiral Ron Lloyd was on hand to deliver a salute to these remarkable women.

We would like to thank the 14 embassies (Germany, China, Venezuela, Turkey, Serbia, France, Australia, USA, South Korea, Poland, Russia, Chile, Netherlands and Azerbaijan) that contributed an exotic assortment of food, booze and beverages to the reception. Local Celtic band Jiggs Boson created a festive atmosphere throughout the entire three-hour event.

One highlight of the evening was when former Ottawa news anchor and Second World War veteran Bill Luxton serenaded the two Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service (WRCNS or WRENs) veterans who were present, Mary Owen and Elsa Lessard, with the WWII wartime hits We’ll Meet Again and (There’ll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover. The WRENs gustily sang along and danced while some in the crowd were moved to tears.

Recipients are peer nominated for their positive influence within the defence field. This of course includes regular and reserve personnel, veterans, cadets, defence industry, science, politics and media. If you would like to nominate an individual for consideration next year, the nomination deadline is January 12, 2018. Please include the candidate’s name, contact information as well as a brief outline describing their achievements in their field and any other pertinent information including, but not limited to, commitment to duty, role as a mentor or leader, community involvement, etc. to

To see the list of all past recipients of Esprit de Corps Magazine’s Women in Defence Award, please go to:

For 2017:

For 2016:

For 2015: