Interview with Commander Heather Armstrong (March 04, 2022)


Interviewer: Katelyn Luymes Interviewee: Commander Heather Armstrong An interview/narrative of Heather Armstrong's experiences serving in the Canadian Armed Forces. Interview took place on March 4, 2022 over a video call. ABSTRACT: The interview with Commander Heather Armstrong primarily focuses on her experience growing up in a military family. Armstrong begins the interview by briefly explaining her father, Lieutenant Colonel Robert “Bob” George Armstrong’s service in the Royal Canadian Air Force, after immigrating from Ireland. She also mentions her mother, Flying Officer Mary Joan Hensman’s work for the Canadian Forces as a Food Services Officer/dietitian in Portage la Prairie. She describes her family relationships, the bond with her siblings during frequent relocations to Ottawa, Trenton, Greenwood, and Shearwater. She also briefly mentions her own postings to Halifax, Shearwater, Cold Lake, and Ottawa. She describes relocating, the process of moving, and her mother’s career as a teacher. She also reflects on her father’s yearlong deployment to the Middle East during a UN Peacekeeping mission from 1968-1969 and the impacts it had on her family and her father’s mental health. Armstrong shares that relocating was both a positive and negative experience as a military dependant and discusses the changes in official military family support. Armstrong mentions her own involvement in establishing Military Family Resource Centres while posted in Shearwater, NS, and recalls the experience of being awarded the Spirit of Military Families Coin Award in 2014 from His Royal Highness, Prince Charles. She concludes the interview by expressing her interest in the growing changes within the Canadian Forces, from the increased support for families, to the increasing opportunities for women and briefly mentions her training at NATO Defence College in Rome. 00:52 – 3:20 – Armstrong describes both her parents’ service, including her father’s roles in the Royal Canadian Air Force and her mother’s service as a Food Services Officer. 3:20 – 6:00 Describes her early childhood, family dynamics, relocations from Ottawa, Trenton, Greenwood, and Shearwater, as well as her own postings in Halifax, Shearwater, Cold Lake and Ottawa. 6:02 – 7:46 – Describes military and civilian housing. 7:46 – 13:06 – Describes relocating and starting at new schools and includes an anecdote about her mother’s first year as a teacher in Melvern Square, NS. 13:06 – 15:07 – Describes making friends and her involvement in extra-curricular activities, including the Girl Guides. 15:08 – 19:16 – Armstrong describes her father’s deployment with the UN Peacekeeping in Palestine operation in 1968-1969, describes daily life and communication while he was gone, including a Christmas spent without him, and reflects on the challenges her family coped with upon his return; mentions her father’s possible undiagnosed Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder upon his return. 19:17 – 24:30 – Reflects on her career choice and her connection with her father; shows a photograph of her father in uniform from 1968. 24:47 – 26:20– Armstrong shares an anecdote and joke that her father often told about how he first met her mother and reflects on her mother’s service, which ended when she got married. 26:27 – 31:20 – Reflects on positive and negative experiences while relocating and shares the most important lesson she learned from her father. 31:20 – 38:45 – Describes her family’s support from civilian and military families, the changes to official military family supports; shares her experience working to establish Military Family Resource Centres, her role as Director of Quality of Life at the Department of National Defence, service on the Board of the Commissionaires Nova Scotia, and the honour to be awarded the Spirit of Military Families Coin Award by His Royal Highness, Prince Charles in 2014. 38:47 – 40:29 – Reflects on the changes in the Canadian Forces, including the increasing support for families and increasing opportunities for women. 40:30 – 44:30 – Shows photograph of Captain K. John Pickford in uniform and a photograph of herself in uniform; compares her experience in a military family with the experience of Captain Pickford; mentions Captain Pickford visiting her while she was studying at NATO Defence College in Rome

In Collection:
Contributor Subject Language Identifier
  • Interview #SC141_AH_894
Keyword Date created Relation
Resource type Rights statement Extent
  • 00:45:02
Alternative title
  • Relocating Expectations: The Impact of Military Life on Canadian Forces Dependants
Geographic coverage Physical repository Collection
  • Canadian Military Oral History Collection
Provider Genre Archival item identifier
  • Accession Number: 2022-020; Series: IV; Item: 894
Fonds title Fonds identifier Is referenced by Date digitized
  • March 4, 2022
Technical note
  • Interview done through an online video call, MP4, 2.53 GB. Metadata by KD.
  • This interview has been posted with the understanding that it may be used for research purposes only. Should the interviewee or their heirs have any objections to this interview being accessible on the Internet, it will be removed promptly. Contact UVic Special Collections for permission if using for other than research purposes:
Last modified

This page supports the Zotero and Mendeley browser extensions simply click on the extension widget in your browser to save the objects citation.