Women-only day showcases defence workforce

Guests of the DWAO pose for group photo in front of the outside fire trainer. Photos by Leading Seaman Brendan Gibson, MARPAC Imaging Services

Guests of the DWAO pose for group photo in front of the outside fire trainer. Photos by Leading Seaman Brendan Gibson, MARPAC Imaging Services

A/SLt Michelle Scott, MARPAC Public Affairs ~

Damage Control Galiano’s flood gates were opened and their fire trainer lit for a group of women interested in learning about the facility.

Twenty-nine women from the defence community and Greater Victoria businesses donned bunker gear on Oct. 29 and tried their hand at tackling flood and fire situations in the flood trainer, fixing pipe breaks, using the fire extinguisher and hoses, and learning about the five stages of fire.

The women-only event, the first of its kind at Damage Control Division, was hosted by the Defence Women’s Advisory Organization (DWAO).

“The purpose of the morning was to have them go through a new experience and allow them to dig a little deeper for the afternoon discussion groups,” explained Lieutenant (Navy) Melanie Weaver, DWAO military co-chair.

The women shared their experiences in the afternoon talks and provided support and advice to each other.

“I was impressed with the comfort level the women had during the discussions,” said Nicole Schaaf, DWAO civilian co-chair.  “It is difficult to talk about diversity issues in the workplace. This amazing experience brought the group together and fostered a level of comfort that led to open, honest conversations.”

The DWAO will take the concerns raised at the meeting and pass them to senior leadership for further discussion. This is a mandate of the group – to address systemic issues facing women in the DND/CAF and provide a voice for those who may not feel as though they have one.

Four influential female leaders from the local business community including Mandy Farmer, Honorary Captain (Navy) of CFB Esquimalt and CEO of Accent Inns and Hotel Zed, also participated in the event.

Farmer, who had never been to Damage Control Division before was thrilled by her experience.

“It’s impactful to talk about women, how far we’ve progressed and show how far we have to go,” she said. “I feel a desire to encourage women to step up into leadership positions. The more female leadership we have in the military, the better our military will be.”

The DWAO hosts meetings and events each month. For more information on meetings and events check out the MARPAC Notice Board. The group is open to both men and women.

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