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Record of Discussion – Commemoration Advisory Group Teleconference

May 22, 2019
09:30-11:30 (EDT)

Participant List

Commemoration Advisory Group (CAG) Members

  • Steven Clark, Royal Canadian Legion (RCL)
  • Dr. Steve Harris, Directorate of History and Heritage, Department of National Defence, (member Co-chair)
  • Derrill Henderson, National Council of Veteran Associations in Canada & Hong Kong Veterans Association of Canada
  • Ray Kokkonen, Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association
  • Gerry Wharton, Army, Navy, Air Force Veterans in Canada
  • Lieutenant Colonel Jim Mills, Team Lead National Commemorations, Canadian Joint Operations Command, Canadian Armed Forces (CAF)
  • Dr. Lee Windsor, University of New Brunswick Gregg Centre

Office of the Minister of Veterans Affairs

  • Minister Lawrence MacAulay
  • John Embury, Director of Communications

Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) Officials

  • W.J. Natynczyk, General (Retired), Deputy Minister, Veterans Affairs Canada
  • Paul Thomson, Director General, Commemoration Division
  • Patsy Bolger-Gallant, Director, Policy, Learning and Recognition, Commemoration Division
  • Cindy MacEwen, A/Director, Policy and Planning, Commemoration Division
  • Karen Rose, Senior Analyst, Stakeholder Engagement and Outreach, Policy and Research Division


  • Charles Cue, Office of the Veterans Ombudsman

Opening Remarks

The Veterans Affairs Canada Co-chair welcomed the members and introduced the new Director General of Commemoration, Paul Thomson, who will be the VAC Co-chair for the Commemoration Advisory Group going forward. The VAC Co-chair noted that a package of promotional items commemorating the 75th Anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy had been sent to each member.

The VAC Co-chair briefly reviewed the Terms of Reference and surveyed the members on an outstanding question related to the percentage of members required to form a quorum. It was agreed to amend the Terms of Reference to set the quorum percentage at 50% of members.

The VAC Co-chair reviewed the Work Plan items for the Commemoration Advisory Group in the short term and over the next 6–18 months, noting that input from members regarding potential topics would be welcome.

National Monument to Canada’s Mission to Afghanistan

The members were provided an update on the site selection for the National Monument to Canada’s Mission in Afghanistan. The site that was endorsed by members (i.e. the LeBreton Riverfront east of the Canadian War Museum) at the February 2019 Commemoration Advisory Group meeting was confirmed by the Minister of Veterans Affairs as the preferred site.

Canadian Heritage, as project manager, sought Federal Land Use Approval of the site at the June 20th 2019 meeting of the National Capital Commission Board. The site received unanimous approval. VAC will work closely with Canadian Heritage to proceed with next steps, and will continue to keep the members informed as the project progresses.

It was noted that recent media reports appeared to create some confusion regarding the Kandahar Airfield Memorial and the National Monument to Canada’s Mission in Afghanistan. These are two distinct initiatives; further messaging about the National Monument to Canada’s Mission in Afghanistan will be shared once a site is confirmed.

Budget 2019 – Commemorative Funding Initiatives

The VAC Co-chair provided an update on funding announced in Budget 2019 to support the Juno Beach Centre and the Highway of Heroes Tree Campaign. It was noted $500,000 will be provided to the Juno Beach Centre each year over the next five years, and $970,000 will be provided to the Highway of Heroes Tree Campaign each year over the next three years.

Visit of Minister MacAulay

Minister MacAulay and the Deputy Minister joined the teleconference. The Minister spoke to the importance of all the Advisory Groups and his interest in receiving their feedback and advice going forward.

75th Anniversary Milestones of the Second World War Presentation

The VAC Co-chair gave a presentation on upcoming 75th Anniversary Milestones of the Second World War, highlighting plans to mark D-Day and the Battle of Normandy. The Minister and many of the members spoke regarding their involvement in events and ceremonies commemorating D-Day and the Battle of Normandy.

The importance of proactively sharing details regarding commemorative activities with Veteran organizations and other stakeholders who can help communicate the information was raised. The VAC Calendar of Events was shared as one means to communicate these activities. VAC will look at other opportunities to proactively publicize events, including coordinating promotions via partners and stakeholders.

Closing Remarks

The members were thanked for their participation.

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