There are times in life that we experience moments that define and shape us for the better. My trek through Baffin Island on an all-female expedition with the True Patriot Love Foundation (TPL) was one of those instances. From the moment I signed up for this adventure over a year ago, I began preparing for what would be one of the most rewarding challenges yet.
TPL’s mission is to inspire every Canadian to contribute to the resilience and well-being of our military, Veterans and their families. In 2017, while watching the Invictus Games in Toronto, I saw the impact that military service was having, not only on serving soldiers, but on their families as well. When a soldier serves, the whole family serves.
Fast forward to 2018, I had made a promise to myself to focus on my personal growth and to give back in a hands-on way. So, when TPL invited me to join its first all-female expedition to Baffin Island I knew I’d found the perfect combination of contribution and challenge. In addition, living abroad for extensive periods of time has made me a proud Canadian – and the opportunity to learn more about our North held massive appeal.
Julie Cowan and veteran Natalie Forcier on the 2019 True Patriot Love Foundation expedition.
Along with a team of currently serving soldiers, Veterans and business leaders, we snowshoed 100km down the Akshayuk Pass in Baffin Island in -25° Celsius weather. We were away for two weeks, slept in tents for eight nights and trekked for seven days. We pulled 65 lbs of gear all while trying to stay hydrated and warm.
What I learned during this time shaped me personally and professionally. It helped me to disconnect to reconnect and provided a singular goal to focus on - to enjoy ourselves and finish as a team. The result was a true mental break I did not expect or realize I needed, and I came home with a sense of clarity. Above all, I was left in awe of our military service women. It was a privilege and an honour to walk alongside such a diverse and inclusive group of people who have served our country in the face of incredible challenges.
When our military men and women come home, their service ends and our service begins. Our group raised nearly $1 million dollars for TPL which goes towards programs that address the unique challenges resulting from military service including mental health, physical rehabilitation and transitioning to civilian life. I particularly want to thank the incredible support of my Scotiabank colleagues, as more than 130 donated over $40,000 to this important cause.
Julie Cowan is Managing Director and Head, Canadian Global Capital Markets Relationship Management.