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Royal Military College of Canada appoints first female commandant

Click to play video: 'Royal Military Collage appoints a woman commandant for the first time' Royal Military Collage appoints a woman commandant for the first time
Cmdre Josee Kurtz took over the role Thursday in a change of command ceremony at the college – Jul 8, 2021

The Royal Military College of Canada (RMC) held a change of command ceremony Thursday unlike any other in the school’s long history, swearing in the institution’s first female commandant.

Commodore Josee Kurtz called the appointment a tremendous leadership opportunity.

“I don’t think that there is a more noble mission than preparing the next generation of officers for the Canadian Forces,” Kurtz said in a press conference Thursday.

Read more: Sexual misconduct review of military an ‘opportunity’ for change, Canada’s top soldier says

During her time in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), Kurtz has held a number of roles, including director general of defence security and commander of the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 in the Mediterranean. She joined the CAF in 1998.

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Kurtz’s appointment comes at a strained time for the military, which has been plagued with allegations of rampant sexual misconduct. RMC has not been immune to these allegations.

Just recently, a Global News investigation found that multiple cases of sexual misconduct at the school were allegedly not taken seriously by leaders of the school.

Read more: 2 Royal Military College bosses downplayed need to combat sexual misconduct, ex-training head says

In 2015, a speaker named Julie Lalonde said she was cat-called and disrespected by officer cadets when she came in to speak to them about sexual assault prevention.

And a 2020 Statistics Canada poll found that 68 per cent of students experienced unwanted sexualized behaviour at military schools.

Click to play video: 'Royal Military College failed to respond to sexual misconduct: former training head' Royal Military College failed to respond to sexual misconduct: former training head
Royal Military College failed to respond to sexual misconduct: former training head – May 30, 2021

The new commandant says her appointment is a signal of a changing culture within the Canadian military.

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“I do hope that it is a positive signal, but it’s also a signal to me, I’ll need to walk the talk. It can’t just be me riding on the fact that I’m a woman, I will need to demonstrate good leadership, I will need to demonstrate sound management and I’ll need to demonstrate that genuine care for people,” Kurtz said.

Kurtz replaces Brig.-Gen. Sebastien Bouchard, who has led the school since 2017.

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