Love of country and learning keep her engaged
An ongoing desire to learn and to serve her country have kept Gwen Bourque engaged in both her military and civilian careers for more than three decades. Recently promoted to Brigadier-General and appointed in the Canadian Armed Forces as the Deputy Commander of the 3rd Canadian Division, spanning from Thunder Bay, Ontario to the B.C. coast.
“I am a very proud Canadian and serving gives me a sense of purpose and community,” says Bourque, who also holds the position of associate vice-president interim for Information Technology Services (ITS) at Saskatchewan Polytechnic.
Bourque joined the military in 1992 after being encouraged by her aunt who was in service. A proud Sask Polytech Computer Systems Technology graduate, Bourque continued her education at Royal Roads University where she completed her master of arts in Interdisciplinary Studies.
During her military career, Bourque was deployed to Afghanistan in 2006 where she
spent six months in active duty and received a Commendation for the work completed
“My deployment opened my eyes to poverty, oppression and human need,” she says. “Canada’s involvement in the First and Second World Wars, the Korean War, and Canada’s efforts during military operations and peace keeping has always been fueled by a commitment to protect the rights of others and to foster peace and freedom. Many Canadians have died for these beliefs, and many others have dedicated their lives to these pursuits. This willingness to stand up to protect human rights, freedom and justice remains one of Canada’s defining characteristics in the eyes of the world.”
In recent years, Bourque led the brigade through Operation Laser, the largest domestic operation since the Second World War, which included organizing members for pandemic relief; she has been a leader in diversity and inclusion work in the military; and was the head of Exercise Golden Coyote which included leading 600 people from all over the world to build bridges and roads in the United States.
“That was a huge career highlight for me,” she says. “It is not often that anyone from outside the country commands on United States soil.”
For these and her civilian accomplishments, Bourque recently received the Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal, presented to Canadians who have made a significant positive impact in the country and the Order of Military Merit, the second highest military award in Canada presented to active members of the Canadian Armed Forces.
“We applaud and thank Gwen for her dedication to our institution and for her service to Canada,” says Dr. Larry Rosia, Sask Polytech president and CEO. “Congratulations to Gwen on her noteworthy accomplishments. She is a valued member of our Sask Polytech team.”
An ongoing desire to lead and serve her country keeps Bourque motivated to continue in her military career.
“It’s about defending Canada and defending those who can’t defend themselves.”
As Brigadier-General, of the 3rd Canadian Division, Bourque oversees 5,400 Regular Force Soldiers, 4,800 Reservists, 1,400 Department of National Defence civilian employees and 900 Canadian Rangers. Bourque stays motivated by ongoing opportunities to learn, grow, be challenged and defend Canadians at home and abroad.
Throughout her civilian career, Bourque has also worked her way up through the ranks in ITS at Sask Polytech from answering calls at the Helpdesk to her current role as acting associate vice-president of the department. She has built many relationships and has enjoyed her time with the Sask Polytech family.
As a leader, Bourque strives to enable Sask Polytech team members to develop goals, plan strategies and achieve results. Bringing the team together during major projects has been a highlight for her.
Throughout both her military and civilian careers, Bourque has remained focused and is not afraid of failure.
“For me, failure can be a good thing,” she says. “That’s when I’ve learned the most. It’s an opportunity to learn and to grow and do better next time. You can never give up.”
Published November 2022.