ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia -- Canadian Army Cpl. Michelle Gerdis is a medic in with 31st Canadian Forces Health Service Center, stationed in Canadian Forces Base Borden in Ontario, Canada, and is participating in Khaan Quest 2019 at Five Hills Training Area, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia from June 14-28.
Gerdis, a Kingston, Ontario, native attended the University of Ottawa where she received a degree in biology. Prior to enlisting, Gerdis worked at the Royal Military College convenience store, Canex, before joining the Canadian Forces.
Q: Why did you decide to join the Canadian Army?
A: “I always enjoyed the structure of the military and while in university, I got very used to it. I finished my biology degree and then decided to enlist to become a medic.”
Q: Do you enjoy being a medic?
A: “I love the army and what it has to offer. I also love the structure and the opportunities it presents. Being a medic is great in that aspect, in the sense that it allows you to work in so many diverse environments. I could work in a primary care clinic, out in the field with the guys doing rucksack marches, and I also get the opportunity to come out on these international exercises. It’s always a challenge and I really enjoy it.”
Q: How are all of these countries coming together for Khaan Quest 2019 an important thing?
A: “I think bringing all these different nationalities together adds an important piece of education and diversity. Every different country has their own way of doing certain things, so you can always learn from everyone. It’s a great way for us to grow as peacekeeping nations.”
Q: With you talking about the diversity, what's important about women being here and having the opportunity to go into these field exercises?
A: “Within the Canadian Armed Forces, we are very lucky to have women go on different exercises frequently. I personally don’t get the opportunity to be in the field as much as my counterparts stationed in Edmonton and Petawawa, however, being in the field allows us to be exposed to different conditions that we may not get the exposure to in the clinical setting. It also allows us to work in the different elements, such as the snow, rain, or the crazy wind that we’re having here. That adds to our knowledge base, for sure.”
Q: Why are women important in peacekeeping and security operations?
A: “Women on these missions represent diversity and equality. The importance of a female presence allows for the capability to interact with local populations’ customs and culture respectfully.”