North

Women raise $800K for military by trekking across Baffin Island

An all-female expedition of military and businesswomen are back home after an eight-day snowshoe trek across Baffin Island, a life changing journey that raised nearly $800,000 to support military members, veterans and their families.

Women hiked 100 kms on snowshoes through Akshayuk Pass between Qikiqtarjuaq and Pangnirtung, Nunavut

The team pauses for a photo in front of Mount Asgard as they snowshoe 100 kilometres through Auyuittuq National Park. (True Patriot Love Foundation)

An all-female expedition of military and businesswomen are back home after an eight-day snowshoe trek across Baffin Island, a life changing journey that raised nearly $800,000 to support military members, veterans and their families.

"It was physically demanding and mentally demanding, but such an incredible opportunity to see one of the most beautiful parts of our country that most Canadians won't likely get to see," said Laura Hearn, who works for the True Patriot Love Foundation, the organization behind the expedition.

The women hiked 100 kilometres on snowshoes through the Akshayuk Pass between Qikiqtarjuaq and Pangnirtung, Nunavut, finishing the trip with spikes attached to their snowshoes to get through the icy conditions.

The True Patriot Love Foundation organizes global expeditions every year, teaming up corporate and community leaders with military members and veterans who've sustained illness or injury while on duty. The goals: to build understanding and raise millions of dollars for the charity.

Look at this group and be in awe of their resilience and their perseverance.- Laura Hearn , True Patriot Love Foundation

Corporate sponsors for the expedition included Scotiabank, Mackenzie Investments and Baffin boots.

The money goes to rehabilitation programs and helps veterans transition to civilian life after a military career.

The all-female expedition team approaches Mount Thor in Auyuittuq National Park. (True Patriot Love Foundation)

Soldiers became mentors

The trip brought together women from top banks and investment firms, the Canadian air force, army and navy, including a medic with two tours of duty in Afghanistan under her belt and a military photographer.

The soldiers and veterans became mentors, Hearn explained.

"They are so efficient. They are used to training in challenging conditions like combat, so each of them was really able to show us civilians how to make it through," she said.

"From my own perspective as well as the perspective of the other civilian participants, look at this group and be in awe of their resilience and their perseverance."

The expedition experiences near while-out conditions during their 100 kilometre trek . (True Patriot Love Foundation)

The top corporate duo on the Baffin expedition raised nearly $96,000. Four other participants fundraised more than $50,000 each, while building their fitness and stamina in preparation. Their companies covered the cost of the trip.

Sgt. Nicole Laidlaw trained north of Barrie, Ont., by pulling 80 pounds on a sled plus her three kids. Used to working mainly with men in the military police, Laidlaw said travelling with non-military women under intense conditions taught her patience.

Her big takeaway from the trip: "The strength of women… we all finished as a team and we all helped each other. There was no complaining, they were always positive and we never left anyone behind. We all stayed together."

Written by Catherine Pigott, with files from Eva Michael

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