On Monday June 21, 2021 I had the honour to be one of the AVA members to witness Chief Petty Officer 2nd Class (retired) Deborah Eisan being presented with her Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) Honorary Captain (Navy) Scroll and Pins.
Debbie is an Ojibway Anishinabe kwe from Batchewana First Nation. She was formally appointed as an Honorary Captain (Navy) of the Royal Canadian Navy on the 19th October 2020. HCapt(N) Eisan is affiliated with the future Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Margaret Brooke scheduled to be delivered to the Royal Canadian Navy summer 2021.
I met Debbie over a decade ago, through the work she was doing with the Department of National Defence Aboriginal Advisory Group (DAAG). She was a vocal supporter of all Indigenous peoples interested in, serving with, and veterans of, the Canadian military. Debbie supported the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) programs to help Indigenous youth experience what Human Resources professionals call a Realistic Job Preview.
Debbie gently used her circles of influence to ensure that the Canadian Forces Aboriginal Entry Plan (CFAEP), the summer programs called Bold Eagle, Raven and Black Bear, and the Aboriginal Leadership Opportunity Year (ALOY) received support, helping participants learn new skills they could use in whatever future they chose.
Debbie continued to support the programs as a veteran, as she expanded her circles of influence to help even more Indigenous peoples thrive. Debbie now plays an important role as the Community Events Planner at the Mi'kmaw Native Friendship Centre.
Lots of important people shared congratulatory messages during the ceremony. I’m sure the Navy will share their names and ranks.
The parts I was most interested in were the support and words of encouragement from Raymond Sewell who started the ceremony by drumming and singing the Mi’kmaq Honour song for Debbie, the congratulations from Chief Dean Sayers, Chief of Batchewana First Nations, and Debbie’s speech.
I was also thrilled to see Petty Officer 1st Class (PO1) Katrina Stewart, a Boatswain in the RCN from the Nisga’a Nation of New Aiyansh, British Columbia, serving as the flag bearer. Katrina graduated from the CAF Indigenous Pre-Recruit Training program known as CFAEP and has served in the Navy for 19 years.
HCapt(N) Debbie Eisan spoke about the dream that led her to join the Canadian military. She also spoke about the dream she and PO2 Innis had of creating an Eagle Staff for Indigenous peoples serving in the CAF.
Debbie ended off her speech with words of wisdom, that I’ve tried to capture here “Dreams do come, not always in the way you expect, in ways only the creator can explain. If we open our eyes and watch for signals, we’ll achieve our dreams.”
As a woman veteran, what struck me as particularly appropriate is that Debbie is HCapt(N) for the HMCS Margaret Brooke an Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ship (AOPS) who’s first Commanding Officer also happens to be a woman, Commander Nicole Robichaud.
Miigwetch, Marsee, Merci, Qujannamiik, All our relations Debbie!