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‘Achieve Anything’ : Women and girls get hands-on learning at CFB Esquimalt

Day sail on a warship will open up fields of marine, defence and engineering to inspire females
CFB Esquimalt will be the host of Operation: This IS You! an initiative from Achieve Anything, a mainland-based organization dedicated to inspiring future female leaders in the fields of aviation, aerospace, marine and defence. (Submitted)

You can be anything you set your mind to – that’s what we were all told as children. But what if that mind isn’t peppered with all the world has to offer, because you’re a girl?

Pilot Kirsten Brazier, president of the Achieve Anything Foundation is changing that with her gender diversity initiative, aimed at bringing the fields of aviation, aerospace, marine and defence to girls and women of all ages.

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“For most girls and women, this isn’t on their radar,” Brazier says. “They don’t realize how cool it would be to be on a warship until they get there. It’s hard for them to imagine things they’ve never seen and heard of.”

Part of the foundation’s work is Operation: This IS You! which began in October 2017 and has since worked with the Canadian Coast Guard, Vancouver Police and at the Vancouver Airport to bring women and girls on site for a day of hands-on learning to inspire careers in fields still heavily dominated by men.

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Operation: This IS You! sets sail on a warship from CFB Esquimalt, Oct. 20. The day includes a search and rescue with the Air Force’s brand new Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclone helicopter, followed by tours of ship duty stations, crew quarters and operational equipment, ship firefighting simulation, and a demonstration of the warship’s manoeuvring capabilities.

The Canadian Forces is a large organization rooted in tradition, but they’re trying to change, says Brazier, who estimates the number of women stationed on warships is roughly 15 per cent.

“The objective is to put them out in the field with tools in their hands,” she says, adding if they don’t come away ignited to join the navy, they will still have learned about other occupations like firefighting, medics, navigation engineering. “Jobs that are on boats, but not necessarily in the navy.”

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For those interested, the trans-inclusive free program is open to women and girls 12 years or older. To apply, visit and answer a few preliminary questions.

For Brazier, a successful venture isn’t when the day ends with future recruits, but just providing the opportunity for women and girls to see what’s out there and to imagine themselves in an exciting and challenging role.

“You need to actually give these girls and women taste of what they might experience to actually get them interested,” she says. “A woman in uniform doesn’t mean anything if she’s not standing beside her ship or her aircraft.”


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