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With Hardship Comes Ease

With Hardship Comes Ease

Issue 90 March 2012

Fighting cancer whilst fighting for her country, Wafa Dabbagh recalls the challenges and rewards of undergoing such a tough encounter.


I moved to Montreal, Canada, 21 years ago, and five years later I moved on to Windsor, in southwest Ontario (province in Canada). I was looking for work at the time and I visited the employment centre to see what was available. When I could not get into the building, I went next door, which happened to be the recruitment centre for the Canadian Forces. The person there told me how to get into the employment office, but as I got up to go, something made me turn back to ask what was available here. The officer told me about the different lines of trade that were possible in the Canadian Forces, and I told him that I was interested in applying. I was after a job where I could travel, and which would feed my sense of adventure, so this seemed ideal. I’ve been with the Canadian Forces for 16 years.


At no point did the fact that I wore a headscarf come up during the application process. I went through all the tests and interviews, but it was not until I went to the reserve unit in Windsor that the commanding officer rang around the other units and found out, much to my surprise, that I was the first woman in the Canadian Forces to wear a headscarf.


I went through a range of roles during my time with the Canadian Forces. I worked aboard ships, and later as a logistics officer. I was also a divisional training officer, training naval cadets and new officers who had just joined the Navy. I had to undertake my basic training three times. My first time was as a non-commissioned member. When I applied to be an officer, I had to go back and do basic training again, to learn the leadership, and command and control aspect of being an officer. Fifteen days before the end of the course, I fell from a cargo net and broke a rib and fractured my pelvis. I was out of action for three months and had to stay at home to recover. Because I didn’t complete the training, I had to go through basic training for a third time.

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