Calgary entrepreneur Manjit Minhas has been named the new honorary lieutenant-colonel for the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada and will be meeting with the Queen Consort this week.
The co-founder and CEO of Minhas Breweries, Distilleries and Winery is well known for her appearances on Dragon’s Den but she has no military experience on her resume — until now.
“When the Armed Forces and the Queen’s Own Rifles reached out, I first thought it was spam. I didn’t think it was real,” Minhas said.
On January 22, Minhas was was appointed to the role of Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel at a ceremony in Toronto.
Minhas will promote the unit’s welfare and provide mentorship to its leaders.
“There definitely is a lot going on, and I look forward to communicating that and being an ambassador for not only the Regiment but for the Armed Forces,” Minhas said.
She’ll also help with recruitment — in an effort to make the Armed Forces look more like Canada does.
The Canadian Armed Forces, which has long struggled to boost the number of women in its ranks, hopes to have them represent one-quarter of members by 2026.
“Choosing an incredible representative like Manjit as our honorary lieutenant colonel, I’m very hopeful that we can we can attract and retain more female members as well as members from the various different communities within Toronto,” said commanding officer of QOR Lieutenant-Colonel Scott Moody.
“Specifically, I recall when I was in Afghanistan we were doing work with women’s groups, having women who could support us that were serving with us was critically important in building those relationships, and working with the women in Afghanistan at that time,” Moody said.
The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada is a Primary Army Reserve infantry regiment based in Toronto. Founded on April 26, 1860, it is the oldest continuously serving infantry regiment in Canada.
Moody said the regiment has some roots in Calgary.
“There was a point where we were a full-time unit and we were stationed both in Calgary and in Victoria,” Moody said.
Minhas said she hopes to bring positive change during the time in her new role.
“I think the armed forces are very open to understanding how they need to change and how they have to do so consciously not only to include Canadians of all types, but also to take responsibility and accountability for the past,” Minhas said.
Her Majesty Queen Consort Camilla is the colonel-in-chief of The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada.
Less than two weeks into the job, Minhas has a audience with the Queen Consort at Buckingham Palace on Feb. 1.
“I’m excited. It’s an opportunity to talk about things not only as a Canadian but as a woman. I’m interested to talk and ask her questions and for her to have questions of me,” Minhas said.
In fiscal year 2022-23 to date, the CAF Regular Force has enrolled 471 females, representing 14.62 per cent of total enrolments. That is comparable to the last fiscal year that saw female enrolments representing 14.4 per cent of total enrolments.