Honorary Colonel of the Canadian Army aims to be ‘a good ambassador’

Article / May 7, 2018 / Project number: 17-0365

By Steven Fouchard, Army Public Affairs

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Ottawa, Ontario — The Honorary Colonel of the Canadian Army (CA) says cultivating diversity will be one of his top priorities as he settles in to the role.

And Honorary Colonel of the Canadian Army Paul Hindo is well-positioned to be an advocate in that sense: he experienced life as a new Canadian first-hand after relocating to Canada from Iraq in 1972 as a teen with his family.

“Being from Iraq I can relate to various cultures,” he said. “I have friends in different communities and hopefully I can bring some assistance to the Army Commander, Lieutenant-General Wynnyk, in terms of the gender and diversity balance that we need.”

“You need to reach into these communities and be a good ambassador,” he added, “and show them why it is so great to live in this country and why its army is a respected and very professional institution.”

Honoraries are a tradition going back more than a century in the Canadian Armed Forces. They are prominent private citizens who volunteer to act as advocates for their regiments and guardians of regimental traditions and histories.

HCol Hindo will be just the second person to serve in this role for the CA as a whole. He was preceded by Honorary Colonel Blake Goldring. This is HCol Hindo’s second honorary appointment, following his tenure as HCol for the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa (Duke of Edinburgh's Own), which began in 2009.

Honoraries need not be ex-military members, but HCol Hindo has two decades of service behind him: his career began in 1974 when, at age 16, he joined The Canadian Grenadier Guards, an Army Reserve infantry unit.

“I was 16 years old, at CEGEP in Montreal at Dawson College and I was looking for a summer job,” he recalled. “They were looking for guardsmen for the summer. And I honestly thought it was a security guard job because at the time I didn’t know anything about the military. I spent the first three years of my career as a guardsman doing the changing of the guard in Ottawa. And they were magnificent summers. We had a wonderful time. I mean, I was young and learning great leadership skills and having lots of adventures.”

He would later join The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada, a Montreal-based Reserve unit where he served until his retirement, at the rank of Captain, in 1992. 

“I have so many wonderful memories,” he said. “When I did my jump course and took my first jump. When I got my commission. When I commanded my first platoon. When I had the privilege of being presented to Her Majesty The Queen Mother. There I was, a young lad from Iraq and receiving a commission from the Queen. The commission scroll is a very powerful document. You read it over and over again and you say, ‘My God, look at this.’”

After returning to civilian life full-time, where he is involved in various businesses, HCol Hindo maintained his military connections as a volunteer on the Canadian Forces Liaison Council, which supports reservists and their civilian employees. He also joined the board of Canada Company. Founded by HCol Goldring, Canada Company offers many forms of assistance, such as scholarship programs, to military members, veterans, and their families.

“My father used to say, citizenship is not as much a right as it is privilege. And with that privilege there are many obligations,” HCol Hindo said. “To serve, to give back, to make sure you leave it better than you found it.”

“When you put a uniform on it means you’re willing to put your life on the line to preserve the sovereignty of your country,” he added. “I’ve always had deep respect for anybody who wears the uniform. So for me to do the same is the ultimate privilege, the ultimate honour, and so I’d like to give back by doing the very best that I can.”

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