Naval Warfare Officers discuss gender at Peru symposium

Sub-Lieutenant Luisa Aranda

Sub-Lieutenant Luisa Aranda, HMCS Calgary Naval Warfare Officer, sits in the CT114 Tutor aircraft also known as “Snowbirds”. Photo: Sub-Lieutenant Luisa Aranda.

Peter Mallett, 
Staff Writer

Two Canadian Naval Warfare Officers represented the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) in Lima, Peru, at the Navies of the Americas Junior Officer Symposium, Aug. 21 to 28.

Sub-Lieutenant (SLt) Luisa Aranda, HMCS Calgary Naval Warfare Officer (NWO), and Lt(N) Jessica Tassot, Senior Naval Warfare Officer of the Naval Reserve (NAVRES) headquarters in Quebec City, made a presentation on behalf of the Royal Canadian Navy’s Defence Women’s Advisory Organization (DWAO) on gender equity in the RCN.

“Participating in this symposium was truly a great honour and one of the greatest experiences I’ve had as a member of the Royal Canadian Navy,” said SLt Aranda. “We learned about the culture, naval equipment, and resources of the host country and I could see and learn from strong young women from around the world.”

Simposio Internacional de Oficiales de la Nueva Generacion de las Armadas de America (SIONGA) was hosted by the Peruvian Armed Forces. It also included delegates from Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Germany, the Republic of Ireland, Italy, Mexico, and the United States.

The Canadian sailors were joined in their presentations by delegates from the Spanish Navy (Armada Española), the German Military Police, the Defence Forces of Ireland, and a civilian researcher from the United States.

“The key points we shared were that the Canadian Armed Forces is an inclusive organization; women can do any job in the Forces and all are treated with the same respect,” said Lt(N) Tassot, a Regular Force member of 12 years. “The audience was very receptive, and not just the Peru delegation but many others were surprised, and some envious that women have access to all trades and maintain a work/life balance.”

The focus of SLt Aranda’s presentation was an extensive discussion on parental and pregnancy leave policies and their impact on careers and the training process.

SLt Aranda, 27, was born in Veracruz, Mexico, and immigrated to Montreal with her family in 2006. A graduate of the Regular Officer Training Program at Royal Military College (RMC), she joined the Navy in 2017. After graduating in 2021, she joined Maritime Force Pacific (MARPAC) and HMCS Calgary in Apr. 2022.

SLt Aranda said Lt(N) Tassot was one of the first female NWOs she had ever met and working with LT(N) Tassot provided her with an excellent mentorship experience. She said one of her primary responsibilities during the Symposium was acting as a translator for Lt(N) Tassot while offering some input about her experiences as a female member of the RCN.

SLt Aranda and Lt(N) Tassot also participated in several activities and engagements while in Peru. These included a tour of Peru’s Naval Aviation School in Pisco, Peru’s Coast Guard Operations Command Centre, Marine Industrial Services and Antarctic scientific research vessel B.I.C. Carrasco, and sailboat training in Callao. Following the Junior Officer Symposium, delegates were given a tour of Lima with Peru’s Rear-Admiral Luis Del Carpio Azalgara.

SLt Aranda says she was surprised to be selected for the Symposium since most of the other delegates had ten or more years of experience, including Lt(N) Tassot.

“Being selected and taking part in the Symposium was very inspirational to me and the [professional] connections I made in Peru with people around the world will last forever,” she said. “It didn’t matter their language, culture or where they came from, each one of them gained my full attention and respect by also being young women in the Navy.”

Lieutenant (Navy) Jessica Tassot

Lieutenant (Navy) Jessica Tassot, Senior Naval Warfare Officer, sits in the back of an aircraft with a German officer during the visit to the Peruvian Naval Aviation School in Pisco.

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