Army recruiter honoured for advancing diversity

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Article / April 14, 2016 / Project number: 16-0047

Winnipeg, Manitoba — Master Warrant Officer Paul Lucas wants to put himself out of work – and it would seem he is well on the way to achieving that goal.

MWO Lucas will be presented with a Meritorious Service Medal (MSM) by His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston on April 29, 2016 at Rideau Hall in Ottawa for his extraordinary success in drawing Aboriginal Canadians to the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) recruitment programs.

I would like to see one day where we don’t have to actually do focused recruiting and where it’s just the norm – where it’s the everyday DNA of the Canadian Armed Forces to be diverse. That’s where I think the vision has to go.

I’ll work myself out of a job,” he added, with a laugh.

Working out of a recruitment office in Winnipeg, Manitoba, MWO Lucas is a diversity officer who visits communities across a wide swath of the country that includes not only Manitoba, but also northwestern Ontario and Nunavut. He unsurprisingly identifies geography as one of the job’s main challenges.

I routinely travel approximately 25,000 kilometres by vehicle a year to recruit,” he said.

MWO Lucas is getting the MSM for successfully bringing more than 100 applicants to various programs each year from 2005 to 2015. Making the effort to visit as many remote communities as he does has been a key component of that success, he said.

I know technology’s a wonderful thing,” he said. “But I find taking the time to come in person, in uniform, and be respectful and proudly represent the Canadian Armed Forces goes a long way.

MWO Lucas will formally receive the medal in a ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa this spring, and is already entitled to add the ‘MSM’ suffix to his name. Though recruiting is a much different experience from his time with the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI), which he joined as a new recruit himself in 1983, MWO Lucas said lessons learned there are still relevant.

I’m very honoured and very humbled by the award,” he said. “Obviously it’s not just me. I have a great team around me and a great bit of support, which is nice. And I think a lot of it goes back to my days when I was with the Princess Patricias. Any task we were given, we did it to 100 per cent. More than anything, my history with the PPCLI has embedded into me that every task that’s worth doing is worth doing 100 per cent. Positive effort equals positive results.

Before shifting gears into recruiting in 2003, MWO Lucas deployed with PPCLI to Germany and served tours as a peacekeeper in both Cyprus and the former Yugoslavia. One might think almost anything else would come easily to a soldier with that level of experience, but MWO Lucas said the successes that earned him the MSM did not come overnight

Attracting an initial group of recruits that could serve as examples for their peers was the first hurdle, he said.

I would say overall the biggest challenge was getting those first few young men and women to be the success stories for particular communities. Once one or two got a chance to go on programs like Bold Eagle, like Raven, like Black Bear, then the whole thing just snowballed.

He credits Master Warrant Officer Grant Greyeyes, the Canadian Army Aboriginal Advisor, along with his colleagues in Winnipeg, for providing invaluable help.

I have to be okay with being uncomfortable because I do not have Aboriginal heritage. And MWO Greyeyes told me, ‘If you really want to put your best foot forward, don’t be afraid to be uncomfortable. Overcome that, attend the powwows, do the Grand Entries. Just learn, learn, learn.’ Once they saw that I was a genuine person, that went a long way to getting those initial successes.

His professional accomplishments aside, MWO Lucas said he also values the many personal benefits that have come with his work.

When you put your whole self forward and commit to it, there’s not only a sense of pride but you really make some good friends on the way.

By Steven Fouchard with files from Natalie Flynn, Army Public Affairs

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