MWO Lizette LeBlanc

recipient of the 2021 Captain Nichola Goddard Leadership Award


The Captain Nichola Goddard Award was created to recognize and honour a young Canadian innovator and trailblazer who has made an inspiring early or mid-career contribution to Canadian security and defence.

Captain Nichola Goddard’s name was chosen for this award, because her leadership and courage in the face of adversity, changed how we as a country viewed women in combat roles.  Her willingness to lead with confidence and take the same risks as the other soldiers in combat made her the first Canadian female soldier to make the ultimate sacrifice in battle (in Afghanistan on 17 May 2006). She was not the first woman in combat for Canada, others made the same decision, but she was the first killed in action. This award pays tribute to the courage of all the men and women in combat who take the same risks, and honours all our fallen soldiers.

The Captain Nichola Goddard award is about remembering the leadership qualities of Nichola Goddard, her character and her vibrant spirit. 

The award is intended to celebrate men and women who break barriers every day, and who live and succeed by the same values that Nichola demonstrated: inclusivity, commitment, courage, and valour. 


Captain Nichola Kathleen Sarah Goddard, MSM (May 2, 1980 – May 17, 2006) was the first female Canadian combat soldier to make the ultimate sacrifice in combat, and the 16th Canadian soldier killed in Canadian operations in Afghanistan.  Since her passing 14 years ago. Nichola has become Canada’s daughter and a permanent symbol of courage in the face adversity. 

Born to British and Canadian school teachers in Madang, Papua New Guinea, Goddard spent most of her childhood in various locations, including Black Lake and Lac la Ronge, Saskatchewan. Her hobbies included cross-country skiing and running, and she had competed in biathlon events. She led a local Scout troop with her fiancé (later husband), Jason Beam, while they were officer cadets at the Royal Military College in Kingston.

Captain Goddard was serving with the 1st Regiment Royal Canadian Horse Artillery of PPCLI as a forward observation officer.  During a firefight in the Panjwaye District. It was part of a joint two-day operation between Canadian and Afghan troops, to secure Kandahar’s outskirts after a rumor of Taliban preparations to launch an assault on the city. As troops were moving into a mosque to capture 15 alleged Taliban members, several dozen hidden militants began firing from neighbouring houses. As a crew commander, Goddard was standing half-exposed in her LAV III, which was hit by two rocket-propelled grenades early in the battle.

The battle lasted most of the day on the 17th and into the night and ended shortly after an American B-1 Lancer dropped a 500lbs bomb. In the end, the two-day operation saw Goddard, an Afghan National Army soldier, and 40 Taliban killed, as well as approximately 20 Taliban captured, which early reports mistakenly said could have included Mullah Dadullah.

Canada’s Daughter: The story of Captain Nichola Goddard. 

The life Nichola and the legacy she has left with us is written in the words of her mother, Sally Goddard, in her tribute biography Canada’s Daughter: The Story of Captain Nichola Goddard.

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons