Above: 18777 BGen Sebastien Bouchard, RMC Commandant, (L) and 15572 Nishika Jardine (R)
“She always did what was right for her people even when it cost her. I’ve never forgotten that.”
Article by 25366 Anna-Michelle Shewfelt
15572 Colonel Nishika Jardine (RMC 1986) will retire from the Canadian Armed Forces on 16 May 2019, after 36+ years of loyal service as an officer in the Corps of Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. A retirement function in her honour was held this past Friday, May 3, in RMC’s Senior Staff Mess.
18777 BGen Sebastien Bouchard, RMC Commandant, was the first to speak in her honour. “Thank you for choosing RMC for this,” he told Col Jardine. “It means something to you, obviously, but it means so much to us here as ex-Cadets, too.” He went on, “The first time I met you, you were a ‘professional captain.’ You really had self-confidence. You inspired me. And there are so many other memories that I’ll keep for myself. I’ll just say that you showed the way for a generation of women to follow you.”
15566 Helga Grodzinski (RMC 1986), the friend responsible for Col Jardine’s “spontaneous decision” to apply to RMC, spoke next. She had the opportunity to present both a very detailed shadowbox and a letter to Col Jardine from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. As Helga remarked, “This letter is fitting for many reasons, not the least of which is that when you and I first committed to wearing grey socks, Trudeau senior was in office.” In all seriousness, she continued, “We were both immigrant kids. And those who immigrate have a deep love for this country, Nishika more so than most. It shows in her service to this country and in her inexplicable love of Gordon Lightfoot. And it shows in that TDV stuck with her. She’s acted it out every day. Her devotion to duty is as strong now as it ever was all those years ago.”
Col Lindsay Denscek, Head of the AMS Dept at RMC, spoke of what Col Jardine meant for the RCEME branch. “When I first worked for her it was the second time we had actually met, and as she didn’t remember me at all I was afraid not that I’d made a bad impression but that I had failed to make any impression,” he joked. “I was also nervous because I had been told that she ‘might be a little hard to please.’ I wasn’t entirely sure what I was getting into, but that was the start of one of the most satisfying working relationships I’ve ever had. After she knows who you are,” he laughed, “she has a knack for making you feel like the most important person in the room. She always did what was right for her people even when it cost her. I’ve never forgotten that.”
As Col (ret’d) Andrew Nellestyn, the former Colonel Commandant of the RCEME branch summed things up, “She certainly is among the alpha females of the world. And I fancied myself an alpha male until I met her,” he laughed, “but we found a balance with a high degree of mutual admiration and respect.”
As befits one with such a career, Col Jardine received a number of certificates and presentations. Her family did as well, for as BGen Bouchard explained, “As military members we understand that it’s not just about us. We are able to do what we do because of the support of our families. It’s important to acknowledge that, too.”
Col Jardine graduated from RMC in 1986 with a Bachelor of Science (Math and Physics). Upon completion of occupation training in Borden, her first posting was to Gagetown where she began her army career as an officer in the Corps of Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (RCEME). She considers herself privileged to have served and commanded in Base Maintenance organizations in all three environments: with the Army at CFB Gagetown, with the Navy at CFB Esquimalt, and with the Air Force and 19 Wing Comox.
Above all, however, she remains deeply honoured to have been appointed Commandant of the RCEME School in Borden from 2008 to 2010. Promoted to Colonel in 2014, she was appointed the Director of Armament Sustainment, a job she believes is one of the best to which a RCEME officer can aspire. Her last posting was spent in the genteel atmosphere of the Canadian Forces College in Toronto, where on a lovely summer day in early August 2018, in the space of one heartbeat, she went from being Deputy Commandant to Colonel-without-portfolio on the road to transition out of her military career.
Now as she leaves her army boots, duly hole-punched, to gather dust in the closet, her focus is on seeing her son through secondary school while taking on contract work with her new company, Helm’s A’Lee Consulting, Inc., and giving back to the Air Cadets, where it all started, as a recently-elected Governor on the Board of the Air Cadet League, Ontario Provincial Council.