Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Canadian Women in the Military

Here is a look back across more than 100 years to appreciate women making their mark on Canadian military history. For a more definitive list of the achievements or accomplishments of women throughout Canadian military history, visit www.forces.gc.ca.

Women serve as nurses for the first time in Canadian military history during the Northwest Rebellion.

During the South African War, women become a permanent part of the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps.

Female nurses are admitted to Canada's Regular Forces.

More than 2800 women serve with the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps during the First World War. The First World War also sees the first organization of women in a military capacity other than nursing.

About 5000 female nurses serve in the Navy, Army, and Air Force Medical Corps during the Second World War. Women serve overseas but are not permitted to serve in warships, combat aircraft or combat arms units.

The Canadian government decides to enrol more than 45 000 women for full-time military service other than nursing — from clerks, cooks, drivers and telephone operators to mechanics, parachute riggers, and heavy mobile equipment drivers.

When Canada is called upon to participate in the Korean War, women are once again recruited for service. By 1955, more than 5000 are enroled.

The government of Canada decides to continue to employ women in the Canadian armed forces. A ceiling of 1500, to include women in all three services, is established (about 1.5% of the total force of the day).

The Royal Commission on the Status of Women recommends changes necessary to provide a climate of equal opportunity for women in Canada.

Medical doctor Major Wendy Clay qualifies for her pilot's wings six years before the pilot classification is opened to all women.

Corporal Gail Toupin is the first female member of the SkyHawks, the Army's skydiving demonstration team.

Military colleges open their doors to women.

Second-Lieutenant Inge Plug is the first female CF helicopter pilot, and Lieutenant Karen McCrimmon is the Forces' first female air navigator.

N.B. Between 1981 and today, women in the military have accomplished an impressive list of “female firsts”. See www.forces.gc.ca

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is signed. It prohibits discrimination based on race, national/ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age and mental/physical disability.

All areas of Air Force employment, including fighter pilot, are opened to women.

Following a discrimination complaint, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal orders key changes.

The Minister of National Defence establishes the Ministers Advisory Board on Women in the Canadian Forces.

HMCS Nipigon is the first Canadian warship crewed by men and women to participate in exercises with NATO's Standing Naval Force Atlantic.

The Chief of the Maritime Staff announces that women may serve in submarines.

The year 2000 marked the 115th anniversary of women in Canada's military.

Capt Maryse Carmichael is the first female Snowbird pilot.


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