November 6, 2023
Meet Donna - Co-Founder of Survivor Perspectives Consulting Group
As we reflect on the bravery and courage of veterans, we find inspiration in the career journeys they have taken beyond the uniform. This Veterans Week, Prince's Trust Canada is showcasing women-identifying veteran entrepreneurs and shining a light on their remarkable stories.
In this spotlight, we sat down with Donna Riguidel, a Canadian Veteran who served in the Canadian Armed Forces for almost 20 years, co-founder and master trainer of Survivor Perspectives Consulting Group, based in Ottawa, Ontario.
This article has discussions of sexual assault training and healing which may be triggering to some readers.
Hi, Donna, thank you for taking the time out of your day to share your story. Could you tell us more about your business? What inspired you to start it and what is your mission?
"It was the question of 'What if experiencing sexual trauma didn't have to cost you your career? What if we could truly embrace the idea we have in the Armed Forces that no one is left behind? What if we could assist people in healing so that they can continue to reach their potential? We aim not only to empower and equip people with the knowledge of how to support survivors but also to educate them on recognizing the problem and taking a role in eliminating it.
Survivor Perspectives Consulting Group began as a small group of volunteers, all unfortunate experts in uniform sexual trauma, who wanted to contribute to positive change. Military training is not enough to address MST (Military Sexual Trauma) because education needs to go deeper. We now have trained over 2100 class participants in our Front-Line Workshop (Uniformed Services Sexual Trauma First Aid and Intervention).”
Can you share with us a bit about your military background and what led you to join the armed forces?
"I first joined in 1993 as a radio operator. My dad had been in the Navy, but that was years before I was born, so it wasn't a significant part of our lives. I didn't know anyone else in the military, except my grandfather, but we weren't close, so it was a somewhat spontaneous decision.
I returned to the Armed Forces in 2006, this time as a public affairs officer. I subsequently moved to Ottawa, first working with the Canadian Forces Liaison Council, and then transitioned to Operation HONOUR."
Were there specific skills or lessons from your military experience that transferred well to your entrepreneurial journey? If so, what were they?
“Public affairs training is all about taking complicated military culture and distilling it down so that people can understand it without being patronizing. As soon as you patronize somebody, they’re just going to shut down. So that’s something you learn to do as a public affairs officer, which we were able to bring to this.”
Is there any message you’d like to give to future Veterans transitioning to civilian life that are considering becoming entrepreneurs?
“I’d say first to be gentle with yourself. People who leave the military sometimes expect to be moving onto the next thing the next day and that you can’t have any time off. Don’t feel pressured to jump headfirst into something new right away. Second, is that whole cliché, if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. Find something you’re truly passionate about.
There are lots of programs, like the one with Prince’s Trust Canada, that can give you the hard skills to build around the soft ones you already have and allow you to have a new community to lean on.”
To find Veteran-Owned businesses like Survivor Perspectives Consulting Group, visit the BuyVeteran.ca directory. With over 600+ Veteran-owned businesses on the directory across Canada, it’s easier than ever to support a Veteran-owned small business.
Prince’s Trust Canada’s Veteran programming makes the transition from military service to entrepreneurship accessible by providing expert advice, resources and mentorship Veterans need to become successful business owners. To learn more, visit the Veterans & Military page on princestrust.ca.