The Captain Nichola Goddard Award was created to recognize and honour a young Canadian innovator and trailblazer who has made a significant contribution to Canadian security and defence.

Captain Nichola Goddard’s name was chosen for this new award because she was very much a game changer in her own right. Nichola was the first Canadian female soldier in a combat role killed in action (in Afghanistan on 17 May 2006). This award is about remembering Nichola’s vibrant spirit and celebrating others who live by Canadian values of inclusivity, innovation, ethical leadership and commitment.

This Year’s LAUREATE of the CAPTAIN Nichola Goddard award is SERGEANT Leslie Blair, RCAF

On 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.
This year’s 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 for her 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 a Christmas program 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. In each case, group cohesion and communication were the key elements of her success.
We also pleased to announce and are honoured that Captain Nichola Goddard’s sister, Katherine Rusk, will be representing the family during the ceremony on March 4th at the Chateau Laurier.
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.

Thank you to our Captain Nichola Goddard Selection Committee members

Chair: Mme. Louise Mercier, Vice President and Group Leader Defence Procurement, Hill & Knowlton Strategies

Ms. Kathrine Rusk, Commercial Litigation Lawyer, Bennett and Jones (Nichola Goddard’s sister and representative of the Goddard family)

Mr. Tony Battista, IBM Canada Executive, Public Safety & National Defence

VAdm. Ron Buck (ret’d), Former Chief of the Maritime Staff

Mr. Richard Foster, Vice President, L3Harris Technologies Canada

HCol. Paul Hindo, CEO of Cyber Defence Corp

Dr. André Levesque, OMM, CD, FRSA

LCol. Sandra Perron, Régiment de Hull

Dr. Youri Cormier, Executive Director, Conference of Defence Associations (ex officio)


Professor Stéfanie von Hlatky

Professor Stéfanie von Hlatky

2018 Recipient


Mrs. Leah West Sherriff

Mrs. Leah West Sherriff

2017 Recipient


Show Buttons
Hide Buttons