Nicole Lunstead (’04)- Currently posted to New Delhi at the High Commission of Canada
RMCC to New Delhi & a Few Stops Along the Way
By: Steph Ochej
If life is all about the journey and not the destination, then one would do well to make the best of the journey and turn it into an adventure. After hearing Nicole Lunstead describe her life, it is clear that she is quite good at making the most out of her journey. RMC was not the goal for her but rather a stop along the way— a challenge that helped shape her so-far very intriguing life.
Lunstead’s time at RMC began in a way different from most: “As a teenager I lived and breathed the sport of biathlon,” she explains. As it would happen, at the time that she was looking at post-secondary options, RMC had the best biathlon program in the country, according to Lunstead. As the then-high school student didn’t know what she wanted to do beyond continuing with the sport, she applied to RMC. After getting in through the RETP program, Lunstead studied at the College from 2000-2004, and graduated with an Honours History degree with a minor in English.
Lunstead’s time at the college saw her face many challenges. Some of these challenges she certainly anticipated and looked forward to, such as the competitions she participated in as a biathlete. In fact, her time spent on the biathlon team in her first and second years saw her compete at the World University Games in Zakopane, Poland in 2001. This is undoubtedly a highlight for any university athlete, and it was an event that the former biathlete describes as “one of the best experiences of [her] life.” Unfortunately, the biathlon program at RMC had been cut by Lunstead’s third year at the College.
Some of the other challenges Lunstead faced at RMC were of a less pleasant and definitely less exciting nature. It turns out the otherwise accomplished student struggled through recruit term, and specifically with one activity in particular: making her bed. “Let’s just say I wasn’t a model cadet, and recruit term was anything but a breeze for me,” she notes earnestly. When asked what one of her funniest memories from RMC was, Lunstead describes returning to her room one night only to find that her entire bed was missing. “I should have ironed my sheets, and measured my corners,” she elaborates. Unfortunately she hadn’t, and her superiors decided to punish her “by dismantling [her] bed, and placing parts of it throughout the campus for a late night scavenger hunt,” she further explains. How many of her classmates reading this remember a very confused OCDT Lunstead stepping into the hallway to let everyone know that her bed had gone missing? A story that she laughs at now, but that was a little less amusing at the time.
Other than participating in biathlon and struggling to shine her shoes and properly clean her room, Lunstead remembers enjoying her classes—Women in War with Dr. Errington and her English classes with Dr. Hurley in particular—and feels very grateful “for the wonderful friends [she] made at RMC.” Like many of her fellow ex-cadets, she describes the very special bond that is formed between the students who attend RMC together. A bond, Lunstead says, that “cannot be replaced and that time or diverging life paths will not erase.”
After she graduated from RMC, despite having been part of the RETP program, Lunstead went into the Regular Force and worked for 3 years as a MARS officer. During that time she was posted to CFB Esquimalt and then to HMCS Calgary. Forever forging an intriguing path, Lunstead then got out of the military while she was working on her Master’s in Human Security and Peacebuilding at Royal Roads University. She describes the decision to leaves the Forces as one of the hardest she’s ever made— something she had to do in order to accept a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council grant that she had been awarded. Like something out of a novel, Lunstead tells of her not-so-average transition to civilian life: “The day after I left the Forces, I hopped on a plane to Uganda where my class was doing a three-week residency. I then planned to write my thesis while volunteering in Mongolia.” She travelled overland by herself from Uganda to Mongolia: “In retrospect, having the time to focus on “me” and plan my next move was the best thing I could have done,” Lunstead says.
After she finished writing her Master’s thesis in Mongolia, the Royal Roads graduate moved to Ottawa to start a position as a Trade Commissioner at the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. And with this another exciting leg of her adventure began: “I am currently posted to New Delhi at the High Commission of Canada, doing trade promotion and trade policy, and helping Canadian companies tap into opportunities in this dynamic and exciting market.”
Working and living in India with her family (Lunstead has “two rambunctious toddlers”) must mean its fair share of excitement and challenges. “India is an absolutely fascinating, dynamic and intriguing country,” the Trade Commissioner says with enthusiasm. “Every time I walk out my door it is to new sights, sounds and experiences,” she goes on.
Though it’s been over ten years since Nicole Lunstead graduated, and she has done many things since then, she still remembers and uses the lessons she learned at RMC to help her on her journey. “I think my four years at RMC set a great foundation to tackle the challenges and take on the opportunities that life throws at you,” she observes. And given her track record, it’s safe to say that Lunstead will continue to seek out and successfully take on all of the interesting opportunities and challenges that life has in store for her.
Steph Ochej is a freelance writer currently in her fourth year at the University of Ottawa. She was born in Kingston, Ontario and comes from a Canadian military family. She is very passionate about travelling, having already lived in London, UK in addition to spending her 2013-14 school year in Moscow, Russia. She will graduate this spring with an undergraduate degree in Political Science and Russian Language and Culture.