Junior RCAF member commended for innovative concept

News Article / February 12, 2018

By Master Warrant Officer Douglas Hennessey

Aviator Erika Malins, an air weapons systems technician student at the Canadian Forces School of Aerospace Technology and Engineering (CFSATE) at 16 Wing Borden, Ontario, received a Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) Commendation for introducing a revolutionary perspective on Operation Honour.

The CDS commendation is awarded to individuals or units in recognition of deeds or activities that are beyond the demand of normal duty. Brigadier-General Dave Cochrane, commander of 2 Canadian Air Division (to which 16 Wing reports), presented the commendation on February 8, 2018, at Borden.

“Aviator Malins’ initiative is an impressive example of being a catalyst for change and is very much in line with the RCAF’ commander’s strong belief that innovation and good ideas have no rank,” said Brigadier-General Cochrane.

On her own initiative, Aviator Malins created a presentation that introduced a perspective on Operation Honour that resonates with younger members of the Canadian Armed Forces and helps them understand the importance of changing the culture surrounding inappropriate sexual conduct.

In October 2016, CFSATE staff approached 16 Wing Chief Warrant Officer Necole Belanger with a proposal to create a CFSATE Student Leadership Council. The idea was supported, as long as its focus included not only the day-to-day issues but also those that might be of a greater contribution and which could bring about positive change to entire RCAF and CAF community. 

Immediately after its formation, the CFSATE Student Council brought to light a shortfall in how Operation Honour was perceived by newly enrolled members of the CAF.  An idea came to Aviator Malins and from it she developed a perspective that brought Operation Honour to a whole new level.

After discussion within CFSATE and with 16 Wing leadership, Aviator Malins presented her version of an Operation Honour briefing to Rear-Admiral Jennifer Bennett, director general of the Canadian Forces Strategic Response Team – Sexual Misconduct, on December 11, 2017. Rear-Admiral Bennett was truly impressed with the presentation and its potential effectiveness in communicating Operation Honour concepts. By her actions, Aviator Malins demonstrated exemplary leadership in that she recognized a requirement for change and courageously pursued its implementation. 

 “Aviator Malins’ generation is the future of the RCAF and, when empowered to effect change, they are brilliant,” said Chief Warrant Officer Belanger. “The fact that this young woman is receiving the CDS Commendation speaks volumes to the men and women the RCAF has for the future leaders in the Canadian Armed Forces. It is very rare to see [a person at the rank of] aviator receiving the CDS Commendation.” (Aviator is the most junior rank in the Royal Canadian Air Force – equivalent to Army private or Navy ordinary seaman.)

 Aviator Malins’ presentation is designed to elicit emotion from the viewer. It is a great example of innovation from the lowest ranks resonating at the highest levels of the RCAF and Canadian Armed Forces!  

Master Warrant Officer Hennessey is the unit information officer at 16 Wing.

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