In July 1999, at the age of 12 Keli Carneiro stepped off of a plane onto Canadian soil for the first time without knowing a word of English.
Now a Master Seaman (MS), Carneiro was born in Rio de Janeiro and spent her early childhood years in a foster home with her brother after her parents separated.
Her mother struggled for many years to meet the needs of her family, living in some of the worst slums in Rio and barely having enough to eat.
She visited her children as often as she could.
“Tired of her financial hardship, my mother courageously decided to move to Canada in pursuit of a better life,” she recalls.
“A life she could share with her children by her side.”
After arriving in Canada the family moved around the Maritimes for roughly a year before being able to put down roots in Trenton, Ontario. Shortly after MS Carneiro joined the Sea Cadet Corps in Belleville where she excelled and rose to the rank of Chief Petty Officer 1st Class in the span of five years.
“Growing up in Canada as an immigrant, and a girl of mixed background, I quickly learned that I had to work harder for my achievements than most,” states MS Carneiro.
“I was determined to achieve from the moment I stepped foot in this new country. I dedicated my time to learning as much as I could as well as participating in as many activities as was possible. The word ‘no’ was very motivating for me.”
Serving in the Royal Canadian Navy was an obvious choice for Carneiro; however, she was…