The Hon. Rob Nicholson, Minister of National Defence, announced the retirement of noted businesswoman and philanthropist Sonja Bata yesterday, the Royal Canadian Navy’s (RCN) longest-serving Honorary Naval Captain, after 24 years of service.
“Honorary Captains act as a bridge between military and civilian communities, and help strengthen the navy’s ties to diverse areas of Canadian society – including industry and the arts,” said Minister Nicholson. “I cannot think of a better embodiment of this ideal than Sonja Bata.”
“Ms. Bata has been a tireless advocate for the RCN since her appointment in 1989,” said Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, Commander of the RCN. “She has remained firmly engaged in our activities for nearly a quarter-century, working to promote a better understanding of maritime defence issues in this country.”
“Over the years, I have gained tremendous respect for the men and women of the RCN who serve our country with great pride and devotion,” said Sonja Bata. “I am deeply impressed by their team spirit and commitment to the RCN and our country. It was an honour to have been given the opportunity to support them as an Honorary Captain.”
Ms. Bata is the Chairman of the Bata Shoe Foundation, and the Founding Chairman of the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto and the Batawa Development Corporation. She is the former Ontario Chair of the Canadian Forces Liaison Council, an Officer of the Order of Canada, and a recipient of the Meritorious Service Medal for her advocacy on behalf of the RCN and the Canadian Armed Forces as a whole.
Her work with the RCN includes acting as sponsor of Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship Ottawa – breaking the champagne to christen the ship during its commissioning in 1996. For the past 17 years, she has remained part of the Ottawa’s extended family, seeing it off for many of its operational deployments.
The Minister of National Defence, on the recommendations of the Chief of the Defence Staff and the Commander of the RCN, is the approving authority for all Honorary Captain appointments. Most appointments are for a three-year period, but may be extended upon the recommendation of the Commander of the RCN. Subsequent appointments will be announced at a future date.
Press Release, October 18, 2013; Image: Canadian Navy