Canada’s only independent monthly defence magazine, Esprit de Corps, awarded 25 Canadian women for their commitment of “Breaking Down the Barricades: Women in the Defence World”, and one of them cited her German roots as part of her success.

“The world gets smaller and smaller. When you speak different languages, you can talk to people whose language is not English,” Astrid Neuland says.  “I’m very proud that I speak German very well, thanks to my parents who emphasized speaking German at home.”

The youngest of five, Astrid grew up speaking German at home. Her parents were Baltic Germans, a minority group living on the east shore of the Baltic Sea. After the Second World War, they dreamed of a better life in North America and moved, each on their own, across the ocean in the early 1950s. They landed at Pier 21 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Not long after, they became a couple and started a family.

Astrid and her siblings have continued to maintain their parents’ Baltic German culture. They participated in youth group activities of the Canadian Baltic Immigrant Aid Society enjoying outdoor ventures as well as travels to Germany. Today, Astrid is the President of the Kitchener-Guelph chapter. Looking back, she says the group taught her resilience, resourcefulness and independence, something that accompanied her throughout her career.

After studying at the Liberal Arts College at Concordia University, she pursued a career in the wine business, then in the information technology sector. Astrid currently works in the defence and security sector. Never having served in the Canadian Forces, she says it’s the immigrant experience of her parents that gave her the courage to venture into the unknown.

“It gives me a certain confidence to try new things, to be able to say, yes, I know this, no I don’t know this.”

Astrid is also an executive with Women in Defence and Security, a non-profit organization which “promotes and supports the advancement of women in careers related to Canadian defence and security industries.” Astrid connects with various organizations across North America to expand the network of Women in Defence and Security and to raise funds for an annual scholarship.

“It’s giving back to the community. People have helped me, now I want to help others.”

Astrid was one of 25 women honoured at the award ceremony in Ottawa on April 10, 2017.

 


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