In Honour of Black History Month
WO Lohanne Walker was born in Jamaica as the youngest child of nine and grew up with the unique responsibilities of tending to the goats and chickens, as well as planting and reaping sweet potatoes, yams, and vegetables. Her home in Jamaica did not have indoor plumbing, running water, or electricity. Growing up within these circumstances helped to foster a level of resiliency and adaptability in WO Walker. It was important for every member of the family to contribute and put forth their best effort.
In 1983, WO Walker’s family immigrated to Manitoba, and they all braced themselves for their first Winnipeg winter! WO Walker and her family slowly began to adapt to their new life in Canada and, with that, came the realization of how many opportunities Canada had to offer.
“In 2006, I decided to join the military and began my journey of giving back to a country that had afforded me so many freedoms within healthcare, education, and the working world.”
WO Walker was also drawn to the military for the travel opportunities, the challenge of Basic Training, and the chance to cultivate her resiliency and give back in a myriad of ways.
“I remember seeing members in uniform, and thinking WOW that person carries themselves with a sense of purpose. They look sharp and very professional in their uniform.”
WO Walker’s initial posting was to Cold Lake, CFSU (E) Germany, and, presently, Winnipeg. She currently works at the CAF Transition Unit Manitoba Saskatchewan as the Human Resources Manager.
Reflecting upon her experiences in Basic Training, WO Walker remembers feeling deeply surprised about being the only black recruit in her platoon. “I remember noticing that one of the Sergeants on our sister platoon was black. When I first saw him, I felt at ease knowing that there was someone here who looked like me. This is important because as a black person, I sometimes feel like I do not fit in, and that people may look at me differently because of this. It can be challenging when one is different because of the skin one is in.”
Overall, her experience at Basic Training and throughout her career in the military has been an overwhelmingly positive one. Over the years, WO Walker has learned how to be confident with who she is as a person
“I’ve recognized that we cannot control what others say or do. We all have special qualities and unique abilities and experiences that allow us to contribute to a greater purpose. My upbringing in Jamaica and Canada, as well as the skills I’ve learned in the military, have unquestionably shaped the person I am today.”
WO Walker believes the CAF is taking steps in the right direction to be more inclusive and open to welcoming diversity. She is so grateful to be able to style her hair in its natural state and is incredibly appreciative of the efforts put forth to educate through different courses, as well as the establishment of different Defence Advisory Groups and the modifications made to the dress regulations. The CAF is gradually becoming a workplace that is more reflective of Canadian society at large.