Squadron commanding officer receives honorary doctorate

A woman in uniform and academic robe, holding a framed document, stands between two men in academic robes.
RCAF Major Brenda Tinsley stands with Dr. Mike DeGagné, Nipissing U president and vice-chancellor (left), and Dr. Paul Cook, Nipissing U chancellor, after receiving an honorary doctorate during the June 7, 2018 morning convocation ceremony at Nipissing University in North Bay, Ontario. PHOTO: Submitted

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By Captain Dawn O’Connor

Royal Canadian Air Force Major Brenda Tinsley, the commanding officer of 51 Aerospace Control and Warning Operational Training Squadron at 22 Wing North Bay, Ontario, was awarded an honorary doctorate from North Bay’s Nipissing University on June 7, 2018.

A member of a proud military family, Major Brenda Tinsley joined the Canadian Armed Forces out of Hamilton, Ontario, in 1996. She attended the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC) in Kingston, Ontario, and graduated with an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Military and Strategic Studies in 2000.

Her long-time friend, Major Jennifer Jones, 1 Canadian Air Division/Canadian NORAD Region Headquarters senior public affairs officer, shares her thoughts on the honour given Major Tinsley, saying, “Within minutes of meeting [her] over 20 years ago, when we were at RMC, I knew she was an exceptional—and incredibly tenacious—person. She is a visionary, she is ambitious, and her constant desire to better herself and whatever she takes on is absolutely infectious. Twenty years later, she continues to inspire me every day—as a mom, as an officer, and as a friend. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this prestigious honour.”

Major Tinsley began her long involvement in the training realm with a posting to weapons control courses at the Canadian Forces School of Aerospace Control Operations, first as an instructor and then as the standards officer between 2008 and 2012.

She was promoted to her current rank in 2013; in 2014, she deployed on Operation Impact, Roto 0, working as both A5 Plans and A3 Operations.

Posted to the Canadian Air Defence Sector in 2016, she returned to North Bay, Ontario, where she qualified as a mission crew commander and was Alpha Flight commander within 21 Aerospace Control and Warning Squadron before assuming her current command.

“I have a long professional history as part of the Royal Canadian Air Force’s training community, and am a passionate supporter of excellence and innovation in education,” Major Tinsley says, “so being selected to receive an honorary degree by Nipissing University, a recognized leader in these values, will forever be one of the highest honours I have received.”

During one of the university’s convocation ceremonies, Major Tinsley spoke to the graduates about the importance of commitment in the field of education, and shared that she felt her role as a teacher in any field is more than a job: it’s a calling of the highest order. She shared words of inspiration with graduates, telling them their future accomplishments are only limited by their dreams, goals, curiosities and hard work, and challenged them to take advantage of the leadership positions in their occupations. She also encouraged them to go “off-plan” concerning the direction they currently believe they will pursue, and to be open-minded. She shared that it was the stepping outside of the boundaries placed by others, and herself, that brought her the most growth and happiness.

Colonel Mark Roberts, commander of 22 Wing North Bay, Ontario, passed on his wing’s congratulations, saying, “Major Tinsley is a strong leader and passionate educator. We at 22 Wing are very proud of Major Tinsley and what she has accomplished over her distinguished career. We congratulate her on this tremendous achievement. Many thanks to Nipissing University for recognizing Major Tinsley for this prestigious honour.”

Captain Dawn O’Connor is the Public Affairs Officer at 22 Wing North Bay, Ontario.

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