Nichola Goddard Award Ceremony to Honour Sergeant Leslie Blair of the Royal Canadian Air Force

2019 Laureate Sgt Leslie Blair


On the evening of March 4, 2020, as part of the Ottawa Conference on Security & Defence during which foreign dignitaries, senior military decision-makers and thought leaders from all over the world will gather in Canada’s National Capital, Sgt Leslie Blair will be honored for her leadership, courage, and accomplishments.

Captain Nichola Goddard (1980-2006), a graduate of the Royal Military College of Canada was known to all as a trailblazer and a passionate leader. While serving in Afghanistan on the front lines, she became the first woman in Canadian history to lose her life in an active combat role. The award celebrates someone who, already in their early or mid-career, has succeeded in making a significant contribution to Canadian Security and Defence, and who embodies in action the Canadian values of inclusivity, innovation, and ethical leadership.

The 2019 laureate, Sgt Leslie Blair represents all of these. Sgt Blair joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 2007 and currently serves as an Aviation Systems Technician with the Royal Canadian Air Force. Having completed her CH-148 Cyclone type course, she is currently posted at 12 Wing Shearwater in Nova Scotia, where she instructs within the 12 Wing’s Maritime Operational Training Squadron. In this role, she has shown innovation in how she teaches and mentors her students and encourages excellence, best exemplified by having set up the Top Student Airmanship Award for them to strive towards.

Sgt Blair is also an example to all on generosity and volunteerism. She has raised funds for children with cancer and led the Canada Workplace Charitable Campaign with a CC-130 Hercules Pull, for which she earned a Wing Commander’s Commendation. She also cooperated with Soldiers Helping Soldiers to collect and distribute food for a downtown Halifax soup kitchen, and took part in Christmas programs with veterans who have had difficulty transitioning to civilian life.

Sgt Blair set a goal for herself to become a top 1% leader as a Non-Commissioned Member in the Canadian Armed Forces. Her goals demand focus and hard work. Outside of work, she continues her formal university education and second language training.

She has seized leadership opportunities in varied sectors of RCAF operations, in the military community, and her personal life — no matter which opportunity, group cohesion and communication were the key elements for success.


Nichola Goddard’s sister Katherine Rusk will be representing the family during the ceremony.


The 2019-2020 Captain Nichola Goddard Award program is made possible thanks to a generous personal donation by Tony Battista, IBM Canada Executive, Public Safety & National Defence. Tony is a friend of the Goddard family and founded the award while serving as the Chief Executive Officer of the CDA Institute, 2014-2017.


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