PO2 Sara Harris: A legacy of service


Petty Officer Second Class (PO2) Sara Harris, a Financial Services Supervisor aboard HMCS Winnipeg, joined the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) as a Reservist at HMCS Chippawa as a summer occupation to help pay for university 30 years ago.

“It was either that or tree-planting to pay for university.”

One of the biggest decision she has made during her employment was whether to move from the Reserve Force to the Regular Force.

“It meant having to leave the East Coast after many years there. It was quite a wrench as my parents had chosen to retire in Nova Scotia from Winnipeg just a few years earlier,” PO2 Harris explains. “But there is a quote from John Wooden that I used to have as part of my work email signature block: ‘Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.’ This is one of the things I tell myself when I am facing challenges that come my way.”

She decided to move to the Regular Force after spending close to a decade in the private sector, and finds the greatest contrast is the close-knit community with her shipmates.

“The best part about being in the navy is the camaraderie. The opportunity to meet and work with people from all over the country is also really great. But the main reason I switched from the Reserves to the Regular Force was to be able to sail on a Canadian Patrol Frigate, which is what I am doing right now. This is my favorite job so far.”

Winnipeg is currently deployed in the Asia-Pacific region on Operation Projection Asia-Pacific and Operation Neon, to further strengthen Canada’s relations with partners in the area.

Though this posting is close to three decades in the making, her most memorable and life-changing experience in the navy happened at CFB Borden, ON, when she was a Reservist. That is where she met her husband, an army reservist, on a career course.

“I can’t see that we would have met otherwise, as we are from different parts of the country and belong to different elements of the Canadian Armed Forces.”

Her family has a long history of military service and includes service by great-grandfathers, dating back to the Boer War, all the way through to service by an uncle in the Korean War, and now her current service in the navy.

“Canada is not a super power but we have proven time and time again that we have an important role to play on the world stage.”

In that light, PO2 Harris offers this quote by the American cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”


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