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Canada appoints first female Chief of Defence Staff

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The government of Canada has appointed Lieutenant-General Jennie Carignan as Chief of the Defence Staff, the highest position in the country’s armed forces.

She will be the first woman to hold such exalted military post.

Carignan will be promoted to general and take office in a ceremony on 18 July. She will take over the baton of leadership from General Wayne Eyre, who is to retire from the Canadian armed forces after over 40 years in service.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced her appointment on Wednesday, marking a huge milestone for gender equality in the Canadian Armed Forces.

Meanwhile, Carignan brings an impressive 35 years of military experience to her new role, having commanded troops in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iraq, and Syria.

Her leadership and dedication have been widely acknowledged throughout her career.

Prime Minister Trudeau, a strong advocate for gender equality, had appointed Brenda Lucki as the first female head of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in 2018.

However, Carignan’s appointment reflects Trudeau’s continued commitment to advancing women’s roles in high-ranking positions within Canada’s institutions.

As Carignan steps into her new position, she will be charged with the tasking of addressing several critical challenges facing the military, including increasing defense spending and addressing ongoing issues of sexism and misconduct within the ranks. Her leadership is expected to drive significant efforts in these areas.

Born in Asbestos, Quebec, Carignan was raised by a police officer father and a teacher mother. She joined the military in 1986, a time when women were not yet allowed in combat roles.

Training as a combat engineer, she specialized in clearing bombs and constructing military structures, steadily rising through the ranks and proving her capabilities in various combat situations.

 

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