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