Glace Bay sailors reflect

AB Dyneh Allen-Buckmire, a cook in HMCS Glace Bay, undertakes additional duties aboard the ship. Photo by Cpl Yongku Kang

AB Dyneh Allen-Buckmire, a cook in HMCS Glace Bay, undertakes additional duties aboard the ship. Photo by Cpl Yongku Kang

Lt(N) Nicole Morrison, HMCS Glace Bay ~

There are many ties that bind military members together.

Commitment to Queen and country, strong work ethic, and dedication to physical fitness are some shared traits.

But what do a cook, a naval warfare officer, and a naval combat information operator have in common?

For one, the trio are sailing together in HMCS Glace Bay as part of Operation Projection West Africa. For two, they are all Black Canadians.

AB Dyneh Allen-Buckmire, Lt(N) Greygory Wagner-Conserve, and OS Lennox Peprah are part of a mission in the Gulf of Guinea aimed at capacity building and fostering relationships with like-minded partner nations, while helping to support stability and the security goals in the region.

For the sailors deployed on this operation, it means getting to work alongside partner navies during two major training exercises, Obangame Express 2020 and Phoenix Express 2020, sponsored by U.S. Africa Command and led by U.S. Naval Forces Africa. They also interact with local communities during outreach events, furthering efforts towards sustainable development, empowerment of girls and women, and overall conditions for peace and stability.                 

February was Black History Month, and the three sailors reflected on what it meant to them.

AB Allen-Buckmire, who serves as a cook, said it was a chance to “represent my people and how we overcame and how we keep pushing through obstacles” and to “show my people, and everyone else, that no matter how much we’ve been put down in the past, we’ll always rise up.”

Black History Month is a learning opportunity, she says, and a chance to show her community that no one should “be afraid to step outside their own pre-conceived notions of what jobs they should be doing.”

For Naval Warfare Officer, Lt(N) Wagner-Conserve, being deployed to Africa during Black History Month is a “good occasion to celebrate the accomplishments and contributions that Black Canadians have made for this country.”

His experience as a Black Canadian in the military is a positive one, he says, and as an institution the Canadian Armed Forces are doing a “great job at encouraging and promoting diversity among their members.”

For OS Peprah, this deployment hits a little closer to home, literally. While he was born in Canada, his parents grew up in Ghana, and they still have family living in Accra. His parents moved to Canada when they were 26 and 30 years old respectively. For OS Peprah, deploying to Africa during Black History Month was “an honour to be able to go to my parents’ homeland.”

It was also a chance for his extended family in Ghana to see him in action. He visited Ghana as a young child, but says he remembers “only the heat and my family,” so he was “happy to get the chance to go back as an adult, with a mission to do something and give back.”

For these three sailors, the mission is a chance to carry on a long and proud tradition of Black Canadians serving in the Canadian Armed Forces.

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