Australian Army public affairs officers, and married couple, Captains Karyn and Dan Mazurek celebrated Canada Day this year in Canberra – their first Canada Day as new Australian citizens.
CAPTION: Captains Karyn and Dan Mazurek at Russell Offices, Canberra. Story by Captain Annie Richardson. Photo by Jay Cronan.
Recent lateral transfers from the Canadian Armed Forces, both of the Mazureks held a variety of roles before bringing their communications skills to the Australian Army.
Since joining the military at 19 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Karyn has experienced life in all three services.
She started as a Royal Canadian Naval Reservist as a naval combat information operator – the Australian equivalent of a communications information system operator.
After nearly 15 years progressing from ordinary seaman to petty officer first class, the Canadian equivalent of chief petty officer in the Royal Australian Navy, Karyn chose to pursue a full-time career first as an aerospace control officer in 2013, then as a public affairs officer in 2015 with the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). Although wearing an RCAF uniform, she deployed to Ukraine with the Canadian Army in 2018.
Karyn said she never thought it was strange to wear blue in a green environment.
“As divisive as the unification of the Canadian Armed Forces was, there were many benefits,” she said.
“We gained the simplicity of unifying those trades that could operate in all three services, like medical, dental, legal, supply and public affairs.
“It actually really helped me as a public affairs officer, because the soldiers just knew by looking at my RCAF uniform that I probably didn’t understand what they were doing, so they made sure to explain everything really well.”
Dan’s career followed a similar path, but instead of sailing the seas, he originally joined as an Army Reservist with 15 Field Artillery Regiment in Vancouver, British-Columbia, also at 19.
After his first tour in Kandahar in 2006, Dan transferred to the RCAF first as a pilot in 2008 and then as a public affairs officer in 2015 where he met Karyn on course in Gatineau, Quebec.
He deployed to Latvia in early 2017 and got home just in time for Karyn to deploy to Ukraine.
“14 months apart was tough, but we’ve both been military for so long – we knew back-to-back deployments was a possibility,” Dan said.
“Our operational service has taken us across the map, during times of peace and times of conflict.
“I was in no way ready to slow down, and I’ve always loved working with Australians on deployments, so I started exploring our options.
“After some research, it took very little arm-twisting to convince Karyn that moving to Australia was the next challenge for us.”
After success in their Overseas Lateral Recruitment Selection Boards, and a few COVID-related delays, the Mazureks and their three cats packed up their house in Vancouver and moved to Canberra.
“Once we touched down in Canberra, everything happened so quickly,” Karyn said.
“We were settled into our new DHA home, issued our new military kit and loaded on the first of many courses.
“To be honest, the hardest part of transferring here was the wait.”
Once settled in Canberra, Karyn started working as the ADF public affairs product manager at the Defence News Bureau, and Dan as a military camera team lead at 1st Joint Public Affairs Unit.
“Canada is a beautiful place, but we’re really happy to be here,” Dan said.
“Australians are fantastic. We really haven’t felt like we live in a completely different part of the world.”
Despite Canada Day being in the middle of the Canadian summer and thus a Canberra winter, this year Karyn and Dan spent Canada Day cooking on their backyard barbecue and forcing maple-flavoured everything onto their new Aussie friends.
“The only thing stranger than a hot Christmas has to be a chilly Canada Day, but I like to think we’re highly adaptable people,” Karyn said.