Family of Capt. Nichola Goddard introduces fund to support women in the military

The family of the first female Canadian soldier killed in combat, Capt. Nichola Goddard, is starting a new fund to support women in the military as they say gender stereotypes continue to plague women interested in a military career.

Goddard was the first female Canadian soldier killed in combat in Afghanistan

Eleven years after her sister was killed battling Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan, Kate Rusk says she still can't read the comment section on stories about her death.

"It makes me really angry," she said "because of the number of people who comment, 'she shouldn't have been there in the first place.'"

Rusk's sister, Capt. Nichola Goddard, was the first female Canadian combat soldier killed in Afghanistan.

"The military is the only career we have in Canada where someone will look at you with a straight face and say they don't think women should be doing that," Rusk told CBC's Metro Morning Thursday.

"That attitude is something Nichola fought against just by the sheer ability to be there and to be a really good soldier," she said.

Rusk's family is now fighting that prejudice by introducing a fund to support Canadian women in the military during and after their service.

Plan to increase number of women in military

The Captain Nichola Goddard Fund will be administered through the True Patriot Love Foundation, a charity that supports service members and their families.

"I hope she's very proud that we are trying to get more women into the military and support the women that are already there," Rusk said.

The Liberal government's new defence policy, introduced in June, aims to increase the proportion of women in the military by one per cent annually, from the current 15 per cent to 25 per cent representation by 2026.

All military positions, including combat roles, have been open to women since 1989, with the exception of submarine service, which opened in 2000.

Proud to serve Canada

Goddard was serving in Afghanistan with the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. She was a member of the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, based in Shilo, Man.

Her superior officer said she had been marked for rapid advancement in an announcement shortly after her death in May, 2006.

In addition to the new fund, Goddard's parents have already established a foundation that provides solar powered lighting systems to Papua New Guinea, the island nation where their daughter was born, as well as as scholarships at the University of Calgary and the University of Prince Edward Island. 

Goddard has also been widely memorialized across Canada.

"There is a coast guard vessel in British Columbia, a school on Calgary, a lake in Saskatchewan, a bridge in Coburg, a peace summit in Nova Scotia," Rusk said.

Her sister, she said, was "just incredibly proud of being able to serve Canada."

Canadian soldier Nichola Goddard died serving in Afghanistan. Now her parents have started a foundation to provide lighting to Papua, New Guinea, the island nation where Goddard was born. 11:39