Passion Projects

A Life-Changing Journey to Support Our Military Women

When an invite to join the first all-female expedition across Baffin Island in Northern Canada came to this compassionate mom’s attention, she knew it was something she couldn’t pass up. Needless to say, finance professional and adventure seeker Julie Cowan committed to a life-changing journey to support our military women. Alongside members of the Canadian Armed Forces, Veterans and other civilians, this exhilarating story of passion to purpose reveals why personal growth and giving back are admirable goals to have.

Editor’s Note: The RedLily™ team is extremely proud of this outstanding women’s troop for many, many reasons—particularly their selfless dedication to the True Patriot Love mission; and for showing us all just how empowering women can be when they come together. We hope you enjoy this personal reflection.


“A Life-Changing Journey To Support Our Military Women”

By Julie Cowan


There are times in life that we experience moments that define and shape us for the better. My trek through Baffin Island (in Northern Canada) last April on an all-female expedition with the True Patriot Love Foundation (TPL) was one of those instances as the team and I pursued growth and contribution in outstanding ways.

About True Patriot Love

TPL’s mission is to inspire every Canadian to contribute to the resilience and well-being of our military, Veterans, and their families. TPL is a national charity and supports military families, funds community-based programs, and contributes to the Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research.

Since 2012, True Patriot Love has produced ambitious fundraising expeditions around the world, engaging Canadian Armed Forces members, Veterans and civilians. Past expeditions have collectively raised over $9 million for the military community and have directly impacted 66 ill and injured military personnel and Veterans.

“From the moment I signed up for this adventure, a year prior, I began preparing for what would be one of the most rewarding challenges of my life.” ~ Julie Cowan

How My Trek Came To Be…

In 2017, while watching the Invictus Games in Toronto, I saw first-hand the impact that military service was having, not only on serving soldiers, but on their families as well. When a soldier serves, the whole family serves.

Julie preparing for the cold temps and harsh conditions.

Fast forward to 2018, I made a commitment to myself to focus on personal growth and to give back in a hands-on way. So, when TPL invited me to join its first all-female expedition to Baffin Island, I knew I’d found the perfect combination of contribution and challenge.

In addition, living abroad for extensive periods of time for work and my schooling (England, France, and Hong Kong) has made me a proud Canadian—and the opportunity to learn more about our North held massive appeal.

Braving The Great White North

Along with a team of currently serving soldiers, Veterans, and business leaders, we snowshoed 100 km down the Akshayuk Pass in Baffin Island in -25° Celsius weather.

We were away from our families for two weeks, slept in tents for eight nights, and trekked for seven days. We even pulled 65 pounds of gear; all while trying to stay hydrated and warm.

What I learned during this time shaped me personally and professionally. It really helped me to disconnect to reconnect and provided a singular goal for me to focus on—which was to enjoy ourselves and finish as a team.

The result was a true mental break that I did not expect or realize I needed—and I came home with a sense of clarity. First and foremost, I have been inspired to be more deliberate and intentional in my relationship with my teenage daughter.

But above all, I was left in awe of our military service women.

I can honestly say, it was a privilege and an honour to walk alongside such a diverse and inclusive group of people, who have served our country in the face of incredible challenges. It was also an important reminder that when our military men and women come home, their service ends and our service begins.

The Baffin Island ladies. This photo was taken at the hotel in Ottawa, Ontario before they left for their adventure.

Our group raised nearly $1 million dollars for True Patriot Love—which goes towards programs that address the unique challenges resulting from military service; including mental health, physical rehabilitation, and transitioning to civilian life.

I am truly humbled by the lessons I have learned about teamwork, perseverance, human strength and connection, and women in general.

Because of this journey, how I live my life has changed forever.



*If you would like to donate to True Patriot Love, please visit Thank you in advance for your support and kindness! #sharingiscaring 

Below are some breathtaking photos taken by Sgt. Shilo Adamson, Canadian Armed Forces (Imagery Technician) of the courageous women from the 2019 Baffin Island expedition.

Click on the first image to view in gallery mode.


About the Author: Julie Cowan is a Managing Director at Scotiabank Global Banking in Markets, the single mom of an awesome teenage daughter, and an adventure-seeker. Julie is passionately pursuing growth and contribution, health and energy, and extraordinary relationships with her daughter, friends and family. As a dedicated finance professional, Julie puts clients first and seeks to be a trusted advisor to customers. She also loves making people laugh and is incredibly grateful for all of the blessings in her life. She can be reached directly on Linkedin.

Editor’s note: If you have an inspiring personal story about turning a passion into purpose, we’d love for you to Submit Your Story. Check out RedLily’s other life-changing “Passion Projects” including “Living Boldly With Breast Cancer” and “Life Lessons” from amazing women just like you! xo



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