Master Seaman Keli Carneiro

Image Gallery

Sailor Profile / February 20, 2020

In July 1999, at the age of 12 Keli Carneiro stepped off of a plane onto Canadian soil for the first time without knowing a word of English.

Now a Master Seaman (MS), Carneiro was born in Rio de Janeiro and spent her early childhood years in a foster home with her brother after her parents separated.

Her mother struggled for many years to meet the needs of her family, living in some of the worst slums in Rio and barely having enough to eat.

She visited her children as often as she could.

“Tired of her financial hardship, my mother courageously decided to move to Canada in pursuit of a better life,” she recalls.

“A life she could share with her children by her side.”

After arriving in Canada the family moved around the Maritimes for roughly a year before being able to put down roots in Trenton, Ontario. Shortly after MS Carneiro joined the Sea Cadet Corps in Belleville where she excelled and rose to the rank of Chief Petty Officer 1st Class in the span of five years.

“Growing up in Canada as an immigrant, and a girl of mixed background, I quickly learned that I had to work harder for my achievements than most,” states MS Carneiro.

“I was determined to achieve from the moment I stepped foot in this new country. I dedicated my time to learning as much as I could as well as participating in as many activities as was possible. The word ‘no’ was very motivating for me.”

Serving in the Royal Canadian Navy was an obvious choice for Carneiro; however, she was unable to join without her Canadian citizenship.

“The process of becoming Canadians was not an easy one for my family,” says MS Carneiro.

“We struggled through rigorous appeal processes over the course of 10 years, and finally received our citizenships in 2009.”

Shortly thereafter the Master Seaman joined the Naval Reserves as a musician with a desire to give back to the country that had given her family so much.

MS Carneiro is the only Naval Reserve musician to have deployed with the Naval Security Team as a force protection operator, not once, but twice. She served on two missions in 2018: in Denmark during Operation REASSURANCE, and then in Fiji for Operation PROJECTION. She also worked as Human Resources Assistant and as a Financial Resources Assistant, all while staying active in her Musician trade and seeking opportunities to continue her progress in the Reserves.

During her military career, Carneiro has been a member of three different Naval Reserve Divisions including Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Star in Hamilton, Ont., HMCS York in Toronto and HMCS Scotian in Halifax where she presently serves.

Carneiro also pursues civilian excellence, previously earning the title of Miss Canada Tourism in her first pageant and placing top five in a subsequent Miss Brazil/Canada pageant as well as the Miss Congeniality title.

She has worked with the Canadian Men’s National Basketball team as an executive assistant, and was a professional cheerleader in Toronto for six years.

MS Carneiro is now the director for the Halifax Thunderbirds official dance team, and is part of HMCS Scotian’s recruiting team.

MS Carneiro has fuelled her fierce determination for success by remembering her mother’s bravery in the face of adversity, and she is grateful every day for the sacrifices her mother made that allowed her to excel.