By Maj. Tristan Hinderliter, MINUSTAH Military Public Information Office
Editor’s Note: On the occasion of International Women’s Day on March 8, 2017, we wanted to take the opportunity to highlight female peacekeepers who are part of the military component of the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – As a blond Canadian woman, Maj. Stephanie Moisan-Vallée, a logistics officer deployed here from Montreal, stands out in a crowd in this Caribbean city by the sea.
“I’d heard about this job because some of my friends had come to work for MINUSTAH, and in my major’s course we were talking about peacekeeping operations, and Haiti was part of the discussion,” she said. “I was interested in doing a peacekeeping mission instead of a NATO mission, so I knew it would be a different experience and I wanted to try this.”
Since arriving in October 2016, Moisan-Vallée has served as the deputy chief of the planning unit at the Joint Logistics Operations Center. Over the past five months, her unit has facilitated national elections – which were held in November 2016 and January 2017 – and is now shifting focus to plan for the expected drawdown of the military component in 2017.
“This is exciting because I like logistics, I like to make logistics plans, and this is a major operation,” she said. “I’m disappointed I won’t get to be here for the execution of the plan, but this has been a great opportunity and experience for me.”
MINUSTAH employs civilians, military forces and police from dozens of countries, who come from diverse backgrounds and speak various languages. Moisan-Vallée grew up in Quebec, a French-speaking part of Canada. She learned English when she attended the Royal Military College, in Kingston, Ontario.
She said that when she first arrived at Royal Military College, all she could say was “My name is Stephanie,” “how do you do?” “yes,” “no,” and “toaster” – the latter being the same in English and French.
“Even if my courses were in French, I had to keep up and learn my English there,” she said. “Most of the work was done in English, and as a Canadian officer it’s important to be fluent in both languages.”
Being bilingual has helped her in MINUSTAH, where the majority of locals speak French, she said.
Reflecting on being one of just four female staff officers out of 63 at Force headquarters, Moisan-Vallée said she doesn’t feel like she’s treated any differently.
“I feel like I’m part of a team, so for me it doesn’t make any difference,” she said. “Of course people try to take more care of me, but that’s not the way I want it. I want to be treated like everybody else, and I think I have that. I’m proud to be a woman deployed here.”
Canadian Army Maj Stephanie Moisan-Vallée, a logistics officer in MINUSTAH, stands with three fellow Canadian officers at Delta Camp, Port-au-Prince, Feb. 17, 2017. (Photo by Sgt Faizal Kasan, MPIO)