CAF Story | Fine Arts and Naval Communication Go Hand in Hand! 

Video / November 07, 2022


(WN) When I left the Fine Arts program at Heritage College, I didn't think that I would pursue a future in it. Oddly enough, now that I've joined the military, I've done more fine arts than I had while going to school. It was a big surprise. It's funny how life works. (laughs)

I'm Sailor 3rd Class, Willow Rosemary Nelson and I'm a Naval Communicator in the Royal Canadian Navy. I used to work at the Royal Canadian Mint in Ottawa. I was working there on a summer internship for a couple of years while I was going to Heritage College for Fine Arts. While I was working at the Mint, I started my career there off in the production room doing the coins that they have there, the Ottawa Mint specializes in collection coins and fine medals. I enjoyed working at the Mint, but I just didn't think that it was the path that my life was meant to be taking.

So I'm a Naval Communicator. There is two different jobs I can do in that trade. Half of us are up on the bridge. We take and write down all of the signals from different nations and also give out signals. So, any kind of mayday emergency call that comes in, we'll immediately brief the Officer of the Watch. The second half of our job is in the communication control room: setting up circuits, just making sure that everyone is able to talk outside of the ship.

In general, our trade is basically the mouth and ears of the ship, just keeping that communication going. Every department, every ship usually has a coin that they make at the end of the year. We exchange them with different navies as mementos. They're called "Challenge Coins". It's a pretty small ship, so a lot of people knew that I had a background in arts. So, it was brought up to me that I should design a coin. Here, it's more of a keepsake.

It keeps tally of where you've been and who you've sailed with, which is why it's such an honor to have designed the coin last year. Because I know now different navies all over the world have something that I've designed. I joined the Navy because I wanted a bit of a new life. I thought that Victoria would be an amazing place to live, which it definitely is. I chose this Navy mostly because of the travel. Hawaii is as beautiful as ever. It is a great place to be, definitely. (laughs) We have ships from all different nations gathered for RIMPAC.

So, we'll be doing different scenarios, different battle scenarios and just a big training exercise. I'm definitely going to stay Navy for as long as possible. So, I do see a future for myself. If you're looking to travel, definitely check out the Royal Canadian Navy. We need people, we want people. And it's been a great experience and I think that for many others, it'll be a great experience as well.

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