Women in the Canadian Military

7 As a class, listen to the Codebreakers Record of Service podcast episode and then watch LCol (retired) Susan Beharriell’s testimony on the trials and tribulations she faced as the first female intelligence officer in the Air Force, and take notes on the challenges and experiences these women faced. 1. In pairs, create a table with one side labelled “Codebreakers” and the other “Susan Beharriell.” Decide on the criteria you will use to compare their experiences. These can include topics like what were the conflicts at their time of service, what was the role of women in the military, or what were the expectations from their fellow service men. List as many similarities and differences as you can. 2. Using the testimonies you heard, as well as other stories from women in the Memory Project Archive, complete your chart. See below for additional resources. 3. Share the similarities and differences you recorded with another pair. What surprised you? 4. What were three of the greatest challenges women faced? What were some of their motivations to join the forces? Did the women who joined the forces have similar qualities that led them to be successful in the military? Was there a particular event that prompted an influx of women enlisting? Are there similar events happening today? What kinds of societal shifts, if any, have occurred as a result of women becoming more involved in the military? EXTENSION ACTIVITY Watch the Michelle Douglas video about her experience during the 2SLGBTQ+ purge, and read her article as well as the Cold War Purge article on The Canadian Encyclopedia. What does this reveal about barriers that people face in the military? Do these kinds of issues persist today? What does this reveal about the issues women have faced (and continue to face) in the military today? ACTIVITY #8 FACING DISCRIMINATION IN THE MILITARY ADDITIONAL RESOURCES Canada and Peacekeeping Canada and the Cold War Canadian Women in the Cold War Navy Peacekeeping Timeline Sandra Perron (Primary Source) Janet Watt served during the Second World War. Major (retired) Sandra Perron (English subtitles available) served in the Canadian Army in the late 1980s and early 1990s and was deployed to Bosnia and Croatia. Watch their two testimonies to start this activity. 1. What are the similarities between Mrs. Watt’s and Major (retired) Perron’s experiences in service? How did their experiences differ from each other, and which challenges did they share? What factors do you think contributed to the differences in their experiences? List as many things as you can. 2. How does the historical context (the nature of the times) differ when comparing the two periods? How might this have affected the women’s experiences? Consider factors such as contemporary global events, women’s rights movements, public opinion on the role of women, Canadian civilian awareness, and support of the country’s military involvement, etc. 3. In what ways are both Mrs. Watt and Major (retired) Perron trailblazers in their field? How did their experiences pave the way for future generations of Canadian service women? What do they demonstrate about women’s contributions in service? 4. Discuss your answers as a class or in small groups. • Think about challenges women may have had to face in the military. How did their experiences differ from the experiences of modern women in the military? What challenges have remained? ACTIVITY #9 CHANGING ATTITUDES? Michelle Douglas (Historica Canada). Major Sandra Perron in the crew commander’s hatch of an APC during a patrol on her AntiArmour Course, CFB Gagetown, fall 1994 (Sandra Perron). Janet Watt in Toronto, 1945 (Janet Watt/The Memory Project).