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Corporal (Ret’d) Francine Beaudry

For more than 40 years, Francine Beaudry has been both a woman of action and a woman with a big heart. She has never been afraid to volunteer her time and to get involved, and she served in the military with dedication for 18 years. Daughter of two Indigenous parents, she has remained in spirit with the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), as she is the current President of the “Association des Vétérans Autochtones du Québec ”.

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Francine in 2019 at the Colisée de Québec for a face off during Veterans Week.

When asked whether she enjoyed her long military career, Francine Beaudry answers without hesitation: “For me, the Army was a big family.” Having been a Veteran for a little over 25 years, she remains highly engaged in the military community in the Quebec City area.

Francine enrolled in the CAF in December 1976, after a short stint as a secretary in a primary school. In January 1977, she moved from her home town of Joliette, Quebec, to attend the Leadership and Recruit School at Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu. She was part of the first group of girls admitted to the school that year.

She loved her recruit course and finished at the top of her class. She also won a marksman trophy. Francine laughs as she recalls, “I liked it so much that I asked them if I could do it again!” Every year after that, she maintained her marksman qualification until she retired, in 1995.

Only a year after completing her course, she was called upon to participate in her first overseas mission: six months in Egypt as a peacekeeper. It is to be noted soldiers are not allowed to use their weapon during peacekeeping missions.

“The rebels would crawl under the fence [of the camp]. We could have been attacked at any time. We were beside the Suez Canal, and there were dead donkeys floating on the water. The smell was sickening.”

Francine remembers the sense of danger that pervaded the camp, as an attack could occur at any moment. Also pervading the camp was a disturbing stench. “The rebels would crawl under the fence [of the camp]. We could have been attacked at any time. We were beside the Suez Canal, and there were dead donkeys floating on the water. The smell was sickening.”

A few months after returning from that unforgettable first peacekeeping mission in Egypt, she was sent overseas again. From 1978 to 1980, she served on the base at Baden-Soellingen, Germany (which is now closed). Her work was mainly administrative, but there was a memorable episode: “The lieutenant-colonel I was working for – what a wonderful man! I even got to take a flight with him in a CF 104 [a famous fighter jet of the period], with a pilot’s G suit and everything! ”

“We were in underground ‘bunkers’ from first light in the morning, and we didn’t come out again until the evening when it was already dark. We sent coded messages to the war zone. Those were long days, but I loved my work.”

After returning to Canada, Francine continued to work in administration and changed bases frequently until 1991. She was working in the Montreal area when the Gulf War broke out. Although she was not on foreign soil this time, she nevertheless participated directly: “We were in underground ‘bunkers’ from first light in the morning, and we didn’t come out again until the evening when it was already dark. We sent coded messages to the war zone. Those were long days, but I loved my work.”

She ended her military career in April 1995 in order to be with her husband full-time, as he was suffering from multiple sclerosis. Even so, Francine continued to maintain multiple volunteer commitments. “I never stopped! I started volunteering with a Cadet corps in Chambly while I was still serving.”

Francine and her grandson who is in Cadets.

She is still involved with Cadets in the Quebec City area, where she lives today, but also with the Legion through Maison Paul-Triquet, where she frequently visits Veterans for anniversaries and birthdays. In her capacity as President of the Association des Vétérans Autochtones du Québec, she presides over ceremonies for Indigenous Vreterans several times a year, which include tributes, sacred songs and the raising of their own flags. Francine received the Minister of Veterans Affairs Commendation for her significant volunteer contributions to the well-being of Veterans.

With courage, integrity and loyalty, Francine Beaudry has left her mark. She is one of our Canadian Veterans. Discover more stories.


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