International Women’s Day


Ottawa, ON – The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, issued the following statement to mark the International Women’s Day:

“Today, on International Women’s Day, we celebrate the incredible contributions and achievements of women and recognize the progress we have made in advancing gender equality. This year’s theme, Women Inspiring Women, celebrates those who inspire us with their leadership in their respective fields.

Women in the military have contributed, sacrificed and accomplished a great deal in the last century. They have demonstrated courage and strength in their service, and helped to promote gender equality more widely, in Canada and abroad. We honour the contributions of all women who have served in uniform over the years and paved the way for future generations.

The late Brigadier-General (Ret’d) Sheila Hellstrom was the first Canadian woman to reach the rank of Brigadier General, and served alongside 130 Generals and Admirals, all of whom were men. Her career culminated in 1989 with an assignment as Chair of the Committee on Women in the NATO Forces.

Captain Navy (Ret’d) Judy Harper led the way for many women throughout her career. She was the first woman to be accepted into the Military Master’s Degree Program, and served as the first woman operational commander and in several senior positions in National Defence Headquarters.

Sergeant (Ret’d) Joan Buchanan addressed systematic issues and discrimination within the Forces as a co-chair of Defence Visible Minority Advisory Group with the Department of National Defence. In 2000, she deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina as part of Canada’s contribution to NATO’s peacekeeping efforts.

Corporal (Ret’d) Francine Beaudry’s military career included her service as a peacekeeper and performing intelligence work during the Gulf War. As President of the Association des Vétérans Autochtones du Québec, she continues to contribute to many Veterans’ causes and raise awareness around Indigenous culture.

Please join me in recognizing these four trailblazers and many more extraordinary women who served and continue to serve our country today.”


Media Relations
Veterans Affairs Canada

John Embury
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Veterans Affairs

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