ARCHIVED - Governor General hosts Army Honorary Colonels Executive Council meeting at Rideau Hall

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Article / November 10, 2014 / Project number: 14-0204

Ottawa, Ontario — His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, the Governor General of Canada and Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) hosted the Canadian Army Honorary Colonels Executive Council Meeting on November 7, 2014 at Rideau Hall. This marked the first time the event had been hosted there by the Governor General.

The event’s locale, with its antique decorations and paintings of former Governors-General, lent a fitting air of regality and history to the first of a two-day conference that welcomed 17 honorary colonels representing Reserve Force regiments and units from across Canada.

Also attending were senior Canadian Army staff, including Commander of the Canadian Army Lieutenant-General Marquis Hainse, Chief Warrant Officer Michael Hornbrook and Brigadier-General Kelly Woiden, Director General Land Reserve and the Chief of Staff of the Army Reserve. CWO Hornbrook pointed out that since this was the first day the Army’s changeover to the historical ranks insignia began for reserve, regular and honorary colonels, the surroundings were particularly appropriate.

 “It is wonderful that we have this opportunity to meet His Excellency and to exchange views and to talk about issues of the day. I can’t think of a better venue than being hosted by our Commander-in-Chief in his own house. It’s very welcoming, it’s quite an honour and a privilege to have direct interaction with His Excellency and we are all excited about it,” said Honorary Colonel Paul Hindo, who is the honorary colonel for the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa ((Duke of Edinburgh's Own).

HCol Hindo recounted how as a youth in Ottawa, his first summer job was as a ceremonial guard in 1974. “And now look where I am,” he said, standing with his colleagues inside Rideau Hall

After welcoming each member personally, His Excellency praised the past and ongoing efforts of the group and noted that one of their own, Honorary Colonel Blake Goldring would be honoured that evening at the Canadian War Museum with the annual Vimy Medal for outstanding contributions and significant leadership in integrating the CAF and Canadian society.

Governor-General Johnston told the group “I want to know what I, as your Commander-in-Chief, can do for you.”  He then proceeded to query various Honorary Colonels in turn around the table, listening intently to each one’s story.

Among the issues noted were recruitment of citizen soldiers, continuing to retain trained members, and assisting members with civilian employment and education, using the Honorary Colonels’ connections to their local business and educational communities.

Helping support veterans who are ill or injured is also an important initiative for Honorary Colonels. Entering its second year of service is Valour Place in Edmonton, which came into being through the efforts of Honorary Colonel Dennis Erker, the honorary colonel for the Loyal Edmonton Regiment (4th Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry).

HCol Erker was presented with a plaque by LGen Hainse for helping to raise some $12 million to build Valour House. It is community-run and houses ill and injured serving members of the RCMP, Canadian Armed Forces and veterans and their families during rehabilitation or medical treatment.

The Executive Committee of the Council of Honorary Colonels of the Canadian Army is a body of appointed representatives, three from each of the Canadian Divisions of the Army plus representation from the Navy, the Air Force and the Rangers.

“We meet twice yearly to deal with issues that affect all areas of our country and get reports from the representatives concerning developments in their respective areas,” said HCol Erker, who is also Chair of the committee.

The honorary colonels are a bridge between the army and the business community, according to CWO Hornbrook.

“First and foremost, the honorary colonels of the Canadian Army are living, breathing examples for the soldiers and the officer corps of all things regimental. The Army is based on families of regiments and these incredible folks, some ex-military, some have never been military but they certainly come from incredibly high backgrounds in the business community,” said CWO Hornbrook.

“They give a vast amount of their time in supporting their units and they have an ability to not only foster and reinforce the regimental pride and ethos, but in a number of cases, they connect and fill some of the voids between the strategic and the tactical by understanding much bigger issues,” he noted.  

He continued, “They have the ability to jump into a trench with the youngest recruit and be able to speak to that young soldier at the soldier level and also talk to the commanding officer of that regiment and give him advice and also support in endeavours to help us connect with Canadians, which is huge. These folks are the windows into the regiments.”

By Lynn Capuano, Army Public Affairs

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