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Updated: Cpl Courtney McKinley is first female soldier from 41 Signal Regiment to deploy from Red Deer in four decades

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Cpl McKinley and other soldiers

Correction:  Cpl McKinley is the first female soldier from “41 Signal Regiment (2 Sqn)” in Red Deer to deploy overseas. There have been as many as 5 female soldiers from Red Deer that have deployed since 1979/80. In the original version of this article I incorrectly stated that Cpl McKinley was the first female to deploy in 4 decades. She is the first female “signaller” to deploy in that time. My apology.

What follows is the original article, updated for accuracy.

As we go about our busy lives in Red Deer, rarely do we think of the soldiers that work, live, and train in our city.  The reality is that we have a growing group of soldiers here, members of 41 Signal Regiment (2 sqn) and 78th Field Battery, a unit of the 20th Field Artillery Regiment.

Given our lack of knowledge at what goes on inside Cormack Armoury and the military in general, it’s fair to say many of us wouldn’t realize that it’s very rare for a female soldier from Red Deer to deploy on an international operation. Forty years ago this past month Cheryl Bolander, Connie Kaastrup, Karen Russel, Bev Scott and Joan Verbonic returned from deployment to Germany. In the ensuing years, there have been as many as 5 deployments of female soldiers from the city.

Those numbers were bolstered recently when Cpl Courtney McKinley Of 41 Signal Regiment took up the call and volunteered for  deployment to Latvia in July 2019 for six months.  McKinley returned recently to resume her studies in political science at the U of A.

Operation Reassurance in Latvia is part of NATO’s assurance and deterrence measures ained to reinforce NATO’s collective defence and shows the strength of solidarity of our Allied forces.

The CAF support to NATO helps make Central and Eastern Europe more secure and stable. It also shows that the CAF is a professional force that is ready for any task.

I got together recently with Cpl McKinley to talk about her unique experience.

The interview appears below, lightly edited for brevity.

How long have you been a member of the Armed Forces and what led you down that path?

McKinley:  I’ve been a member for about 3 years.  I grew up in Wainwright, and as you know, that’s a military town. It really influenced me and I’ve always thought it was a really cool thing for people to do, and I appreciated it myself, and it’s proven to lead me into some very cool experiences. 

What was your role there and why did you want to do deploy?

McKinley: Well, Canada has been deploying an increasing amount of troops to Latvia the past several years as part of NATO’s Enhanced Forward Prescence in the Balkins with Canada being the Framework Nation for Latvia so many of my colleagues from the Regiment and from the Brigade in general had previously deployed and I heard alot of positive feedback.  It’s not a combat tour, but it’s more of an exercise-based mission and it really allows members to hone in on the roles of their trade and really become professional soldiers.  As a Reservist, it allowed me to take my theoretical knowledge and apply it to real world situations. What led me to deploy is I wanted to put my training to a practical use to become a better soldier in the future.

What was your role? 

McKinley: Being a Signaller in the Canadian Army means that you are responsible for establishing all types of communications systems.  Further you need to be able to track what is going on in the battle and relay that information from the elements in the field back up to the Commanders.  You are responsible for everything regarding communications in a military situation. 

What did you learn from soldiers from other countries? 

McKinley: We worked with militaries from approximately 9 different countries.  When you form an international NATO battle group, it’s an amazing dynamic because all of these different militaries are expert in some things, but not necessarily everything, Canada included.  We were all able to learn from each other and bring that knowledge back to our countries and now work with our peers to advance our own skills. Montenegro for instance, is a very small country and their troops are getting some pretty extensive training on how NATO operates as a whole, and Montenegro, being the newest member of the alliance, is gaining significant knowledge and experience.  In my case, I don’t think I’m exceptional, but I did have the flexibility in my life, and was readily available, and I really wanted to do it. 

What did this experience do for you personally? 

McKinley: I guess I gained the knowledge of how other countries perceive Canada and our fighting force. And the ability to make friends with people who do not speak a common language using google translater.  And learning that everyone has the same problems and challenges.  One example would be, when you supply a mass amount of equipment to a group like this, there are problems – with your leadership, officers, and just personal things.  One thing that really stood out for me was at Christmas.  We were all away from home, it was the end of the mission, we were all tired of being away, but being able to spend time with our peers and newly-found friends was pretty awesome.

You’re studying Political Science at the U of A.  Do you intend to continue with your military career and does your education align with this? 

McKinley: I have no plan to leave my military life.  Me studying politics plays more into the nature of my curiousity in the world around me and my interest in the military, and why I wanted to deploy in the first place. 

What would you say to an employer about why a reservist would be a great asset to their company or organization?

McKinley: I would say that throughout my time in the reserves, what I have learned is alot of practical skills.  And that goes from how to work with people from different nationalities, down to vehicle mechanics, and how those all play into a working environment.  In the military you are taking policy put in place by NATO, really taking political theory and applying it right down to maintaining the equipment needed to make sure that mission succeeds.  As a troop on the ground you’re part of the gears that are actually working to a successful mission and feel like I’ve seen all levels of that in my brief military career. The values you see in the military would be working together on a team and working towards a common goal with that team.  It’s not about the individual.  That’s probably the biggest lesson I’ve learned from my military career that can transcend into my civilian work.  And trusting in leadership to take you where you need to be in order to be successful. 

The military has made diversity a priority over the past few years.  What would you say to someone, a female particularly, who is considering a career in the forces? 

McKinley: It’s important for them to know that all members of the army are treated equally and are all held to the same standard.  I can only speak for myself, and in my experience, yes it is a male-dominated field but I’ve never felt at any point that I was less than because I was a woman, and I guess I’d encourage them to join if they’re students or looking for practical skills development.  You will have the same expectations if you are a man or a woman, and I’ve never experienced any objectification in my threee years.  I’d encourage women to experience for themselves and listen to the experiences of women who have been in the forces.  I think women are starting to realize that the military is very much a field for women as well. 

Cpl Courtney McKinley, 41 Signal Regiment, Canadian Army Reserve

Background:

In June 2017, the CAF deployed about 540 Canadian Army members to Latvia. They are leading a NATO battlegroup comprising military members from several nations, including:

  • Albania
  • Canada
  • Czech Republic
  • Italy
  • Montenegro
  • Poland
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain

This battlegroup works as part of the Latvian Land Forces Infantry Brigade. It is based at Camp Adazi, Latvia.

Mission timeline

  • April 29, 2014 – the CAF sent its first CF-188 Hornet Air Task Force to Europe. Since then, the CAF had periodically sent air task forces to Central and Eastern Europe.
  • May 3, 2014 – the CAF sent a Land Task Force to Central and Eastern Europe, based in Poland.
  • May 13, 2014 – the CAF sent a Maritime Task Force of one frigate to Central and Eastern Europe.
  • June 19, 2017 – Canadian-led NATO enhanced Forward Presence battlegroup Latvia was stood up during a ceremony at Camp Adazi, Latvia.
  • August 17, 2017 – The Land Task Force in Poland completed its final deployment.
  • July 10, 2018 – The Prime Minister of Canada announced the renewal of Canada’s contribution to NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence until March 2023. The CAF will also increase the number of members deployed to Latvia from 455 to 540.

Past Deployments

CAF members have continuously supported NATO assurance and deterrence measures since 2014.

  • To date, seven different ships have contributed to this operation; three of them have deployed twice.
  • From May 2014 to August 2017, over 1000 soldiers deployed in eight rotations to Europe. Based at Drawsko Pomosrkie Training Area, Poland, they regularly took part in exercises with allies and partners.
  • The CAF has sent an air task force to three different countries: Romania (four times), Iceland, and Lithuania.

If you’ve enjoyed this article, please share it.  Here’s a link to a documentary from 2017 that highlights Alberta soldiers who have deployed overseas.

Hon Lt Col Lloyd Lewis

Lloyd Lewis is Honorary Lt. Colonel of 41 Signal Regiment and serves on the Board of the AB Chapter of the CFLC. He is President of Todayville, a digital media company based in Alberta.

 

 

 

President Todayville Inc., Honorary Colonel 41 Signal Regiment, Board Member Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Arts Award Foundation, Director Canadian Forces Liaison Council (Alberta) musician, photographer, former VP/GM CTV Edmonton.

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Alberta

Edmonton triples venture capital investment in 2023

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Alberta’s tech sector continues its strong momentum, with Edmonton seeing its strongest growth ever, proof Alberta remains a hot tech market.

As global and national investment have declined, Alberta has remained a strong tech market and is showing continued leadership, as shown by Pitchbook ranking Calgary as the 12th fastest-growing tech ecosystem in the world and LinkedIn ranking Calgary as one of the best places to hire and recruit tech workers.

At the end of 2023, Alberta’s five-year growth rate for venture capital dollars invested reached an impressive 48.5 per cent, more than triple Canada’s compounded average growth rate of 13 per cent, according to the 2023 Canadian Venture Capital Private Equity Association fourth-quarter report.

The province’s growth rate means Alberta finished 2023 with $707 million invested over 86 deals, in line with Alberta’s 2022 record-breaking year. In contrast, Canada ended the year with a 31 per cent decline in investments. Over the past five years, Alberta technology companies have secured more than $2.7 billion in venture capital funding across 350 deals, creating thousands of jobs for Albertans.

“While Canada as a whole saw massive declines, Alberta has held steady. We are a major venture capital player in Canada, as technology drives growth across all sectors.”

Nate Glubish, Minister of Technology and Innovation

Alberta’s two largest cities continued to attract investment dollars in 2023, with Calgary and Edmonton coming in fourth and fifth respectively for number of deals, with $501 million invested in 64 deals in Calgary and $188 million invested in 21 deals in Edmonton. Edmonton saw a 324 per cent increase from $58 million in 2022 to $188 million in 2023. In total, Alberta captured 10.3 per cent of dollars invested in 2023 and 13 per cent of venture capital deals in Canada.

“Edmonton’s tripling of venture capital investment in 2023 underscores our city’s position as a dynamic tech capital within Alberta’s thriving innovation ecosystem, reaffirming our role as a powerhouse driving technological advancement and economic prosperity across diverse sectors. It is the local innovators’ relentless pursuit of solutions to real-world problems, with the continuing support of the Government of Alberta, which not only attracts significant investment but also propels our city to the forefront of Alberta’s tech revolution and fosters job creation for our community.”

Launa Aspeslet, interim chief executive officer, Edmonton Unlimited

“At Platform Calgary we are working with our partners to continue this momentum by linking up high potential tech startups with the investors that can help them take their businesses to the next level. The evidence is clear, Alberta is emerging as one of the most exciting and resilient tech ecosystems in the world. Together with our growing tech community, we can secure Alberta’s position as the best place in the world for anyone to launch and grow a tech business.”

Terry Rock, president and chief executive officer, Platform Calgary 

Alberta remains a growing market for the technology and innovation sector, and Alberta’s government celebrates its steady contribution to the Alberta economy, including in the fourth quarter of 2023. The end of last year saw venture capital investments in the province increase by 35 per cent for dollars invested and 19 per cent for deals closed compared with the third quarter. There were 25 deals closed valued at a combined $173 million in the fourth quarter of 2023.

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Alberta

Shining a spotlight on Alberta athletes, sport leaders

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Alberta’s government is continuing to support the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame, so it can showcase the province’s sport legacy for years to come.

The Alberta Sports Hall of Fame celebrates the accomplishments of more than 1,600 Albertans, from Olympic gold medallists to community sport leaders. To continue supporting this long-standing legacy, the government is providing $302,500 to the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame Museum. This funding will support the operations of the facility and the organization’s management and delivery of the annual Alberta Sport Recognition Awards.

“Alberta’s future is stronger when we understand and preserve our history and celebrate our successes. Places like the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame help us do just that. I’m proud our government is supporting it, as it spotlights Albertans with incredible athletic achievements and community contributions.”

Joseph Schow, Minister of Tourism and Sport

“The Alberta Sports Hall of Fame has long been a cherished attraction in our community, offering Albertans inspiration and a window into the remarkable legacy of our athletes and community sport leaders. With our government’s investment in this institution, Red Deer’s tourism will undoubtedly grow, bringing significant benefits to our community and surrounding areas.”

Adriana LaGrange, MLA for Red Deer-North

“I am pleased to see the government’s support for the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame continue. This organization enriches the sport community in central Alberta, inspires the next generation of athletes and preserves our province’s history in sport excellence.”

Jason Stephan, MLA for Red Deer-South

The Hall of Fame provides a space where the accomplishments of the sport community in Alberta are preserved and inspires the province’s future athletes and community leaders. Albertans recognized in the Hall of Fame include Melody Davidson, who was inducted in 2008 for her excellence in hockey, serving as a two-time Olympic gold medal-winning head coach for Team Canada women’s hockey, and Lanny McDonald, who was inducted in 1993 following a long and successful career in professional hockey. Last year, 12 inductees were nominated, including Patrick Jarvis and Theresa Maxwell for their success in Paralympics and volleyball.

This funding will ensure that Albertans can continue to celebrate the province’s turning-point moments and growing legacy in sport.

“We are grateful for the support we have received from the Alberta government. Their funding has played a pivotal role in sustaining the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame, allowing us to preserve and celebrate the rich sporting history of our province. This support not only enhances our ability to showcase the achievements of the athletes, teams and sport champions but also reinforces the significant role sport plays in our community.”

Dale Henwood, chair, Alberta Sports Hall of Fame

“Red Deer proudly stands as a hub for sports excellence, and the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame plays a pivotal role in preserving and promoting our province’s rich athletic legacy. The City of Red Deer is grateful for the Alberta government’s continued support, ensuring that this institution continues to inspire future generations by showcasing the remarkable achievements of our athletes and community leaders.”

Ken Johnston, mayor, City of Red Deer

The Alberta Sports Hall of Fame helps grow tourism in Red Deer and the surrounding area by attracting visitors to the facility to enjoy interactive sport-oriented games and activities and sport memorabilia. In the past two years, an estimated 20,000 people have visited the Hall of Fame annually. Exhibits on different sports and sport organizations, including the Hall of Fame Gallery that showcases the athletes and sport builders who have been inducted annually since 1957, are also available to view.

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