Canada Names First Woman To Lead Military

Canada’s prime minister announced the appointment of Lieutenant-General Jennie Carignan as the first woman to lead the Canadian Armed Forces.

A highly decorated soldier and mother of four children, who is currently chief of professional conduct will be promoted to the rank of general and will replace the retiring General Wayne Eyre as chief of the Defense Staff at a ceremony on July 18.

The Canadian Armed Forces have been dealing with a toxic culture, as highlighted in a 2022 report, described as “hostile to women… (and) conducive to more serious incidents of sexual harassment and assault.”

Carignan has been working on reforming this culture to be more respectful and inclusive over the past three years, especially after numerous sexual misconduct accusations, even involving top officials.

It’s worth noting that women represent 16 percent of the Canadian military, based on government data.

Carignan’s background growing up in Asbestos, Quebec, as the daughter of a policeman and a teacher, adds a personal touch to her efforts in this challenging reform process.

She joined the military in 1986, just before Canada permitted women in combat roles.

Starting as a combat engineer, a position involving bomb clearance and battlefield structure operations, she swiftly advanced in rank, challenging stereotypes about women in combat.

She made history as the first woman to lead a Canadian combat unit and served in Afghanistan, where she faced dangers like a suicide bomber and an improvised explosive device during convoy missions.

Carignan’s extensive military career includes deployments to Bosnia-Herzegovina and Syria, leadership of NATO’s training mission in Iraq, and command of the 2nd Canadian Division, the military’s largest regiment with over 10,000 troops.

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