Updated: Feb 17, 2022
by Captain George Borden
“If I was to tell you that my military profile for this issue is on a Black Major, would that surprise you? Not really! Okay, what if I said it was about a Black pilot? Perhaps! Well then, let's say it concerns a Black doctor. Quite a bit! Good, because my personality for this month is going to freak you out.
He is Major Steve Blizzard, MD, CD, D Av. Med; which in layman's terms says that he not only has the Canadian Forces Good Conduct decoration; but he is a qualified doctor, surgeon no less, and a specialist in aviation (flying) medicine. To coin a phrase, he is a Flying Doctor. Now how's that for combining three careers in one? Not too shabby! and there's lots more to come, as you will see further along.
With those many talents you can understand why the military has decided to employ Steve at their head- quarters in Ottawa. From the employer's point of view, it's like getting three staff members for the price of one. Then too, you don't let a unique fellow like Steve Blizzard out of your sight, for fear that some foreign power might try to abduct him.
Steve presently holds the position of Advisor to the Surgeon of the CF. Can you dig it? The Advisor, to the number one medical man in the whole Canadian Forces. Now that's heavy! And let me tell you frankly, Steve has never been content to remain in the number two position.
Now let me back up a bit and tell you some of the milestones in the life of this exceptional man. Steve hails from Trinidad where he practiced Veterinary Medicine, that's animal Vet, not military Vet, prior to joining the RCAF in 1960. At that time he was completing his (people) doctors studies in Canada.
Following his internship, Steve practiced at the National Defence Medical Centre in Ottawa. After completing a Flight Surgeons Course in 1965 he assumed medical officer duties at a number of bases across Canada, rising to senior MO and eventually Base Surgeon.
Steve's flying interests began back in 1949 while taking his veterinary training at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. In 1953 he obtained his private pilots license and ten years later gained his commercial ticket. When the military finally realized that they could profit doubly if he was flying (in uniform) Steve underwent military jet training and graduated with his wings in 1968.
Imagine, an animal doctor, a people doctor, a surgeon, a pilot and a Major in the Canadian Forces. If that is not the epitome of what a determined Black person can do, then I don't know what is. If you learn nothing else from this article, it will be sufficient that you realize from Steve's example that, “being black is not a barrier, just a slight obstacle”.
Back in his island homeland, Steve at one time held the senior examiner position for qualifying pilots. He also held the appointment of Aviation Medical Examiner for the United Kingdom Board of Trade. He is a qualified flying instructor and a member of numerous aviation and aeromed (flying medicine) societies and associations. He has taken courses and undergone training related to every aspect of medicine and flying on two continents.
Just a year ago, Steve served as a member of the Canadian Delegation attached to the United Nations Emergency Force at the signing of the peace treaty in Egypt.
Steve has amassed a great number of firsts in his star studded multiple career not the least of which is the first Black doctor/pilot in any present or past Canadian military service. And, he is quick to point out that it came only after hard work and determination. The opportunities were there, he says, "and I took them". He views his career as unusual, but all worthwhile.
Steve sees the broadening of one's outlook as being an important benefit from military life and this applies equally to the military family. He has found that the self-discipline learned in service life can be extra beneficial to Blacks because it teaches ‘thought before action’, a quality very necessary to members of minorities.
The opportunities for education in and through the Canadian forces has had a profound impression on Steve. He also speaks highly of the many sports programs available for service people. In this regard, Steve sees successful professional Black athletes as fine examples of the rewards for, “literally fighting one's way to the top.”
Of military life, Steve quotes “Once you’re through with this outfit, nobody’ll fool you.”