By Sub-Lieutenant M.X. Déry
Dr. Bonnie Henry is a prime example of the outstanding achievements of Canadian women who are celebrated during Women’s History Month in October.
A former naval officer, Dr. Henry is British Columbia’s Provincial Health Officer, the first woman to hold that position.
Her journey to becoming a household name in B.C. and across Canada began decades ago as the child of a military family.
“I was born in Fredericton as my father was posted to nearby Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Gagetown, but I consider Charlottetown my hometown,” she says.
Her father was a major with the Lord Strathcona’s Horse regiment in the Canadian Army. “We moved around a lot.”
Dr. Henry grew up in towns across Canada and abroad including Charlottetown, Calgary, Saint John’s and the Netherlands.
But it was summer employment with the Naval Reserve as a Naval Warfare Officer, then known as a Naval Control of Shipping Officer, that would lead her to B.C. and eventually to Provincial Health Officer, managing the province’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Interested in medicine, she attended the Dalhousie University Faculty of Medicine in Halifax. During the third year of her medical degree, Dr. Henry enlisted in the Royal Canadian Navy and served as a medical officer after graduating. She was based at CFB Esquimalt, B.C., and served for 10 years.
“Being an armoured corps officer, (my father) was sorely disappointed when I joined the navy,” she quips.