Lt. Shields went to the Royal Military College in Kingston Ontario, to do her Bachelor of Engineering degree before going on to the navy. Training took her to all parts of Canada, and she was later deployed to Canadian ships as an engineer.
Lt. Shields is stationed in the Sinai Desert in Egypt, as part of Operation Calumet. Her role is that of a managing engineer, which looks after engines and electrics of a ship, among other things, while the ship patrols the coastline.
"Pretty much anything that makes the ship run"
The mission has been ongoing since 1985 for Canada, and the goal is to supervise the implementation of the security provisions of the Egyptian-Israeli Treaty of Peace and try to prevent any violation of that agreement. Canada has 28 personnel stationed at the El Gorah camp.
There have been several highlights in her career, she says, starting from her first deployment in 2008. She served as a junior engineer on the HMCS Toronto, which spent a month in the Canadian Arctic on Operation Nanook. The mission was a sovereignty patrol, and worked with helicopters and submarines to conduct Search And Rescue training scenarios in the arctic environment.
"A highlight for me was seeing a polar bear in the wild," she adds.
Later that summer she spent a month and a half in the Caribbean on Operation Carribe, a counter narcotics operation. On the mission they observed suspicious vessels in the area, and directed law enforcement agencies when needed.
In the summer of 2009, she sailed with the NATO fleet, with ships from the USA, Germany and Denmark. On that mission, she served as the Cross-Pol officer, which arranges personnel visits between ships to let them experience how other navies work.
This Remembrance Day she was in the desert, observing the ceremony on the base. Remembrance Day holds a lot of meaning for Lt. Shields, as it does for most military members.
"For me personally, a good friend of mine, who I went to university with, was killed a few years ago in Afghanistan," says Lt. Shields. " I always remember the sacrifice of his life and the pain and hardships suffered by his wife and young son who he left behind to carry on without him."
The deaths in Afghanistan highlight the importance of Remembrance Day, she says.
"I would say that Remembrance Day is still for us, much as it has always been, a time to remember all of those who have died in support of Canada’s overseas missions, whatever they may be, whether the World Wars or up to the present day Afghanistan."