The Courier

Sailor 1st Class Dania Dhaw greets her father Sailor 3rd Class Muftah Dhaw on Basic Military Qualification at Canadian Forces Base Valcartier. Photo by Master Corporal Nathan Moulton – Supplied Photo

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For many families in Canada military service has been passed down through generations of children following their parents into the army, navy, air force or reserves.

But the Dhaw family’s trajectory into the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) was less conventional.

Sailor First Class (S1) Dania Dhaw, 28, did not come from a family of Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members and it was not her lifelong dream to join the RCN.

S1 Dhaw first learned about the reserves while working as a painter on the base in Kingston. In one of the houses resided an earnest logistics officer who told her about his travels with the RCN and encouraged her to pay a visit to the recruiting office.

“A week later I joined,” S1 Dhaw said. “He was so excited about what he was doing. I was like ‘I want this.’”

S1 Dhaw, a Human Resource Administrator, was thrilled with the experiences the RCN presented and the doors that seemed to open as she met fellow sailors and learned of their careers. Her eagerness for new opportunities to travel, learn new skills and meet new people prompted her to encourage her father, Sailor Third Class (S3) Muftah Dhaw to see for himself.

“I was telling him how fun it is,” S1 Dhaw said. “My dad has worked his whole life to support our family. There wasn’t a lot of convincing. He saw how I was and he was like, ‘OK. Help me with the process.’”

But her father was not on his own after his application was submitted. Having completed the training herself, S1 Dhaw remained alongside her father, supporting him where he struggled, as he completed basic training and the Financial Services Administrator (FSA) trade course.

“I had to take a lot my lunches at work, and sometimes after work. We would go to the unit and I’d be teaching him drill,” S1 Dhaw said. “I’d be working with him on drill over and over and over again.”

S3 Dhaw completed his training in at the age of 57. Although the program was not a breeze, S1 Dhaw admires and celebrates her father’s tenacity and positive disposition.

“You have no idea how proud I was,” S1 Dhaw said. “To see him do all of this…especially with a positive attitude.”

The accomplishments of S3 Dhaw are likely not the end of the family’s naval aspirations, as the RCN can soon expect an application from her 17-year-old brother, Rasheed, once he graduates high school, said S1 Dhaw.

S1 Dhaw was excited to see young sailors have unique travel opportunities and adventures, and knew the RCN was the future she wanted for her brother.

“I told him that there are some younger guys at my unit who are 21 and 22 who have got to sail, to travel. They’re meeting so many people. I told my brother about all the adventures they’re having at a young age,” she said.

“I mean, who doesn’t want to sail? It didn’t take long to convince him either. He wants to be a boatswain or a marine technician.”

Excited for the future, S1 Dhaw reflects on her family’s introduction to the RCN and takes pride in her father’s ambition as he pursued an unlikely career change, all while maintaining high morale among his team.

“The majority of the staff would not stop saying what a positive attitude my dad carried. The others who were sad, my dad would try to cheer them up with jokes and bring in that positive environment,” S1 Dhaw said.

“I was like ‘yeah, that’s my dad.’”

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