Being an officer in the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) is much more than just a job. To Lt. (N) Nadia Shields the navy offers a career and a way of life.
Born and raised in St. Thomas, Ontario Shields entered Royal Military College Canada in 2002 to become a Maritime Surface and Subsurface Officer (MAR-SS).
“I choose MAR-SS by happenstance. I thought a career in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) would be interesting, but I knew I wouldn’t enjoy forced marches or camping the way my brother, an army signals officer does. I thought working on a ship’s bridge would be pretty cool, and everyone knows the navy has the best uniforms,” said Shields.
MAR-SS officers can be watch keepers, responsible for the navigation, safety and the ship’s programme, or they can be warfare officers responsible for combat in the air, on the surface and sub-surface. MAR-SS officers may also be the officer in command of the ship.
In 2006 she completed her training in British Columbia and was posted to Nova Scotia where she sailed on Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Iroquois, HMCS Charlottetown, HMCS Athabaskan, HMCS Ville De Quebec and HMCS Toronto.
Currently posted to HMCS Toronto, Shields is the combat officer responsible for a combat department of 97 personnel and the long term planning of the ship and deployment. She has deployed three times with three different ships.
Married to a member of the RCN, Shields looks forward to one day being posted with her husband to Ottawa where they can be near family again.
Leadership, management and adaptability are all skills Shields learned through her experiences with the CAF. Two years after graduation she managed a dive team, bridge team, section of junior members and deployed to the Middle East.
“I am a woman in a combat role. There are no glass ceilings in the CAF, the pay cheque is the same, and the jobs are the same. In the end, you do your job, do it well and you will get to see the results of this regardless of gender, which is exactly the way it should be no matter what career you choose,” said Shields.
According to Shields, the Canadian Armed Forces is a big proponent of supporting its members, male or female and has zero tolerance for harassment, discrimination or any other form of abuse. In her experience, there is no other organization as supportive of the people who work for it.
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