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History-making appointment for Victoria reservist

Lisa Kachanoski is the first woman to be appointed regimental sergeant major in the 5th (B.C.) Field Regiment of the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery in the regiment’s 140-year history on Vancouver Island

Between her shifts as a Victoria paramedic this week, Lisa Kachanoski will make Canadian Armed Forces history.

The 42-year-old reservist will be officially promoted today to the rank of chief warrant officer and appointed to the position of regimental sergeant major in the 5th (B.C.) Field Regiment of the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery — the first woman appointed to the role in the regiment’s 140-year history on Vancouver Island.

“It’s a real honour and I’m very grateful for all my mentors and my family who have helped to get me to this very privileged position,” Kachanoski said in an interview Monday. “When I was younger, I looked up to this position.”

The Metchosin resident is being appointed to the position during a ceremony at the Bay Street Armoury with Lt.-Col. Ian Watt, commanding officer of the 5th (B.C.) Field Regiment.

Regimental sergeant major is the highest non-officer rank in the Canadian Army. Their role is to be the “right hand” of the regiment’s commanding officer, and the principal adviser who sets the standard for dress, deportment and discipline in the regiment.

They set the course for effective training and personnel administration and logistics within the regiment. It is also a sergeant major’s responsibility to mentor and guide the development of all non-officer ranks.

Kachanoski, who was born in Victoria and raised in the capital region and in Nanaimo, joined the reserves at age 17 out of high school.

“I’ve gone to some interesting places and helped in difficult times,” said Kachanoski. She said she doesn’t see herself as someone making history. “I’m just doing what I love, and the Canadian Army as a whole is pushing people with potential. I hope it inspires anyone in the army now or in the future, no matter what gender they identify with.”

Kachanoski was 19 when she was first deployed to Bosnia in 2000 as part of Operation Robin Hood, where as a UN peacekeeper she assisted with dispensing cooking supplies and rebuilding homes shattered by war.

She went to Jordan in 2019 as part of Operation Impact. There, she helped lead a team responsible for training some of the first female soldiers to be employed in the Jordanian Armed Forces’ Quick Reaction Force.

Kachanoski deployed in 2022 to Latvia as part of Canada’s NATO contingent in Operation Reassurance, where she served as the influence activities liaison officer tasked with maintaining positive military-civilian relations.

She has deployed on several operations within Canada, including Operation Palachi in 2011, which assisted Parks Canada with avalanche control in Rogers Pass. In addition, she served as a military regional liaison officer with multiple deployments in B.C. on Operation Lentus, where she helped to co-ordinate the emergency operations centre for B.C.’s wildfires and floods.

Kachanoski was awarded the Member of Military Merit medal in 2019 for recognition of outstanding meritorious service.

When she isn’t doing drills at the Bay Street Armoury or serving her regiment in the province and overseas, Kachanoski is on call as a primary-care paramedic, a position she’s held since 2014.

“I often see people at their worst times and we always try to help them work through that, and give them the help they need,” said Kachanoski.

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