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Sierra Leone News: Royal Canadian Navy visits Salone

L - R Lt-Comm Nicole Robichaud,AIG Elizabeth Turay, Canadian High Comm.

L – R Lt-Comm Nicole Robichaud,AIG Elizabeth Turay, Canadian High Comm.

In 1792, 225 years ago, more than 1,000 former slaves from the U.S. and settlers left the shores of Nova Scotia, Canada, to return to Sierra Leone as free men and women. They settled in the nest along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean beneath the enclave of hills known as “Lion Mountain”. And, in commemoration of their return to West Africa, named their new home, “Freetown”.
And so began the strong, rich relationship between the east coast of Canada and the west coast of Sierra Leone. The ancestors of those freed slaves and settlers blossomed and in 1961 formed the Republic of Sierra Leone, independent of Britain; a sovereign nation under the warm sun along the pristine coastline. In 1961, Canada and Sierra Leone established formal diplomatic relations and the connection between the two countries flourished.
The special affinity between the two countries is reflected today in a positive working relationship, which allows Canada and Sierra Leone to cooperate on a broad spectrum of issues.
On 20th March, the arrival of two modern Royal Canadian Navy ships, the HMCS Summerside and Moncton in the heart of Freetown brought together girls and women to discuss issues of women’s empowerment in Sierra Leone.
According to the United Nations Women’s gender specialist, Baindu Massaquoi, the manifestation of violence against girls and women and gender inequality in the country has affected the development of women.
“Sierra Leone is a male dominated society”, Massaquoi said, “the potentials of girls are limited as a result of traditional practices, teenage pregnancy, poverty and sexual abuse. There is a need to face-lit such status of the women in the country.”
Lt.-Commander Nicole Robichaud is the first woman to captain a warship in the Royal Navy. She commands HMCS Moncton. She said, “It’s no secret to becoming successful in this male dominated field. Self-determination, confidence, hard work, and learning from past mistakes, are some of the keys in achieving one’s dream.”
The visit of the Royal Canadian Navy to Sierra Leone is to engage with Government of Sierra Leone officials, girls and boys, orphans, youth, school-going children, men and women of Sierra Leone.
Isata Sesay, a participant and pupil from Port Loko said, “This has exposed me to something I never dreamed of seeing and meeting such influential women like the Brigadier General, the Mayor of Makeni and the AIG of Police. The Navy women were inspiring.”
Sesay continued, “With all of the experience sharing, I have learnt that there is nothing impossible. You just need to go for it and believe in yourself together with hard work and perseverance – you can make it .”
Canadian High Commissioner to Sierra Leone, H.E. Heather Cameron, illustrated her success by sharing stories of leadership and girls being an agent of change in the society. Cameron urged girls to be bold; to make positive change in the world. She pointed out her government’s commitment to supporting girls and women.
By Sylvia Villa
Tuesday March 21, 2017.

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