Ombudsman Recognizes Extraordinary Members of Canada’s Defence Community with the 21st Liz Hoffman Memorial Commendation

Message from the Ombudsman | 20 October 2022

During a ceremony held in Ottawa today, I was honoured to award the Liz Hoffman Memorial Commendation to six dedicated members of the Defence community.

The Liz Hoffman Memorial Commendation recognizes members who have gone the extra mile and exceeded expectations in bringing about positive and lasting change to the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces.

Many distinguished guests attended the ceremony to highlight the extraordinary dedication and inspiration put forth by the recipients. These guests included Dr. Andrea Hoffman, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence, as well as representatives from the Royal Canadian Navy, Royal Canadian Air Force, Military Personnel Command, Canadian Forces Intelligence Command, Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services, and Canadian Forces Housing Agency.

It was an honour to recognize this year’s recipients of the Liz Hoffman Memorial Commendation:

Captain Sarah Black

In recognition of exceptional skill in addressing gender barriers and contributing to the well-being of the Defence community, Captain Sarah Black was awarded the Liz Hoffman Memorial Commendation.

During a time of crisis in the Canadian Armed Forces, Captain Black channeled her response to affect positive change by challenging long standing assumptions about meritocracy, taking great personal and professional risk to speak truth to power. In 2021 at the height of the allegations of sexual misconduct against senior Canadian Armed Forces leadership, she led the development of a tiger team of fellow junior officers to address systemic misconduct and gender barriers in the Canadian Armed Forces, in particular within the Intelligence Branch. Under her leadership, the team systematically leveraged existing tools and used team members’ educational backgrounds and experiences to address the issues of covert gender barriers to women.

Captain Black’s commitment to positive change for a more inclusive Intelligence Branch and Canadian Armed Forces provides a source for inspiration for not just her peers and subordinates but for senior leaders as well. Intelligence officers across the country have participated in town halls, and created a network of support for one another from the entire officer rank spectrum. Her efforts have been iterative, and senior leaders have expressed interest in replicating these initiatives in the NCM cadre. Her team’s work has already contributed to changes to help prevent sexual misconduct, including a series of actionable solutions provided to the Chain of Command to help resolve the issues of unfairness discovered by her team. She has provided clear and concise solutions to identified systemic issues to senior Intelligence Branch officers, Generals, and Flag Officers.

Captain Black has also worked with members of the Canadian Armed Forces outside of her direct chain of command to help with career issues, engaging both chain of command and those outside of the chain of command to provide support and guidance to members.

I commend Captain Black’s exceptional dedication.

Doctor Karen Breeck (Major retired)

In recognition of her dedication to military women’s health and well-being, Dr. Karen Breeck (Major retired) was awarded the Liz Hoffman Memorial Commendation.

Throughout her 20-year regular force military career, Dr. Breeck displayed an unshakeable passion for ensuring the medical support of Canadian Armed Forces members. Enrolling in 1987, she experienced first-hand the need for more female-sex specific research to provide all military members with evidence-based health care. As military women began occupying operational posts previously held only by men, she noted a prominent gap in occupational medicine knowledge. Throughout her military career, she steadfastly continued addressed the unique needs of the military women in this generation.

Following her military retirement, Dr. Breeck has continued to advocate. She started working within the Women, Peace, and Security Network to advise the Government of Canada on identifying and removing barriers to successfully deploying military women. She continues to advocate for Canada to set minimum mandatory standards for sex-specific medical care training, currency, and supplies for all deployed members, including on United Nations missions.

Dr. Breeck also volunteers as a co-chair with the Women Veteran Research and Engagement Network. She continues to challenge military and political decision makers to make military workplaces as physically and psychologically safe as is operationally and occupationally possible for all team members. She has provided specific recommendations to both the House of Commons and the Senate on how government could better address systemic health-related inequities remaining within the Canadian Armed Forces.

I commend Dr. Breeck’s continued dedication to supporting the Defence community.

Ms. Jennifer Calkin

In recognition of exceptional skill in resolving conflict and contributing to the well-being of the Defence community, Ms. Jennifer Calkin is awarded the Liz Hoffman Memorial Commendation.

As the Family Liaison Officer of the Military Family Resource Centre at 15 Wing Moose Jaw and a member of the Gender-Based Violence Committee, Ms. Jennifer Calkin works tirelessly to improve and promote a healthy work environment. She provides recommendations on methods of conflict management. In addition, she facilitates training and workshops such as Trauma-informed Leadership and a Dare to Lead Seminar.

Ms. Calkin has organized Boundary training for transition and health units at 15 Wing Moose Jaw. She also facilitated an Operational Stress Injury workshop to other service providers and satellite clinics in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. These training sessions helped promote awareness, and created a positive interdisciplinary approach to supporting clients.

Ms. Calkin’s innovative, forward-thinking solutions not only address the root of a challenge, but also strengthen the whole team. She helped organize and promote professional development in order to prepare staff to operate through a trauma-informed lens, which directly contributed to a stronger team. Ms. Calkin’s actions assist her unit, colleagues, and other departments in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Such actions demonstrate her commitment to prevent conflict in the workplace before it happens.

I commend Ms. Calkin’s exceptional dedication.

The Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, Culture Advisory Organization National Committee (Major Hilary Forbes, Major Jean-Raphael Fleury, and Chief Warrant Officer Nicole Barrett)

In recognition of their exceptional dedication to improving organizational culture and inclusivity and contributing to the well-being of the Defence community, Major Hilary Forbes, Major Jean-Raphael Fleury, and Chief Warrant Officer Nicole Barrett were awarded the Liz Hoffman Memorial Commendation.

As co-chairs of the Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (RCEME) Culture Advisory Organization National Committee, Major Forbes, Major Fleury, and Chief Warrant Officer Barrett worked together to identify solutions to systemic issues impacting members’ well-being, both within the engineer corps and the Canadian Armed Forces.

They assessed Canadian Armed Forces and RCEME initiatives and policies from a culture and inclusivity perspective. These assessments provided recommendations to improve programs such as the RCEME Strategic Management Plan—the 10-year plan and outlook for the Corps. Major Forbes, Major Fleury, and Chief Warrant Officer Barrett also created a regional network to reach the entire Corps which consists of approximately 4,950 military members dispersed across bases and wings in Canada. As a result, the Culture Advisory Organization has addressed Canadian Armed Forces cultural and professional conduct matters as well as created solutions and developed workshops specific to the Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.

Major Forbes, Major Fleury, and Chief Warrant Officer Barrett have demonstrated an ability to help resolve issues informally and, when appropriate, to engage management. While difficult situations are unavoidable, they have created a way to support members and leadership to ensure fairness, loyalty, and integrity. Feedback from leadership, management, and affected members has been exclusively positive. As volunteers, they recognize the importance of positive change within the Corps and the Canadian Armed Forces as well as demonstrate their commitment to improving the culture and environment in which they work.

I commend Major Forbes, Major Fleury, and Chief Warrant Officer Barrett for their exceptional dedication.

Again, I would like to thank these outstanding individuals for their hard work and dedication, which has made a significant contribution to promoting a culture of fairness in the Defence community.

Gregory A. Lick

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