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Record of Discussion – Commemoration Advisory Group Meeting

Thursday, July 14, 2016
0830 – 1600 (EDT)
Pearson Boardroom, International Development Research Centre
150 Kent Street, Ottawa, Ontario

In Attendance

  • Richard Blackwolf, Canadian Aboriginal Veterans and Serving Members Association
  • Steven Clark, Royal Canadian Legion
  • Dr. Stephen Harris, Directorate of History and Heritage, Department of National Defence (co-chair)
  • Derrill Henderson, National Council of Veteran Associations in Canada & Hong Kong Veterans Association of Canada
  • Michel Houle, Veterans UN-NATO Canada
  • Ray Kokkonen, Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association
  • Commander Dan Manu-Popa, Canadian Joint Operations Command, Canadian Armed Forces
  • Hélène Robichaud, A/Director General, Commemoration, Veterans Affairs Canada
  • Gerry Wharton, The Army Navy and Air Force Veterans in Canada


  • Linda Brunet, Encounters With Canada
  • Dr. Lee Windsor, University of New Brunswick Gregg Centre

Record of Discussion

The Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic Policy and Commemoration along with Director General of Commemoration, who is also the VAC co-chair, provided opening remarks for the first face-to-face meeting of the Commemoration Advisory Group (CAG).

The CAG Terms of Reference were discussed and agreed to, with minimal changes. The mandate of the CAG is to provide advice to the Minister of Veterans Affairs on how VAC, through its Canada Remembers Program, can engage Canadians in paying tribute to all those who have served Canada since Confederation, including those who died in service, Veterans who are no longer with us and today’s Veterans.

During an in camera discussion, Dr. Steve Harris was selected by the members as the members’ co-chair to the VAC co-chair (Director General of Commemoration).

VAC co-chair provided the CAG with an update of Canada Remembers Program activities. An overview was provided of the July 2016 commemoration, both in Canada and in France, of the centennial of the Battles of the Somme and Beaumont-Hamel. Also, it was explained that work is underway for Veterans’ Week 2016 commemorative initiatives, including learning resources to engage educators and youths across the country in remembrance.

CAG members were consulted on the site for the National Memorial to Canada’s Mission in Afghanistan.

  • Presentations were made by Canadian Heritage and the National Capital Commission, followed by a group discussion.
    • It was explained that the memorial’s intent is to recognize the commitment and sacrifice of Canadian men and women (military and civilian) who served in Afghanistan as well as the support provided by Canadians at home.
    • Four Ottawa sites were presented. From east to west, the sites are: the Cartier Square Drill Hall, the lawn of the Canadian Phalanx, the Richmond Landing Upper Plaza and the west of the Canadian War Museum. Considerations associated with each site were presented. Considerations included accessibility, proximity to public transit, parking, environmental impacts, assembly space, noise levels, presence of other monuments, as well as future plans for the sites.
  • The majority of the CAG members agreed to recommending that the CAG endorse Richmond Landing as a preferred site for the National Memorial to Canada’s Mission in Afghanistan, with six members in favour, two opposed, and two absent.

The CAG also explored the topic of recognition. It was remarked that Canada often takes a somber approach towards remembrance; the CAG expressed the need for balance in honouring the fallen and commemorating Veterans. It was noted that recognition should include Veterans’ families. VAC’s Heroes Remember online feature, including video testimonials of Veterans, was mentioned as an initiative that is successful in reaching youth. CAG members agreed that the CF1 card does not meet the needs of Veterans and that there is a lack of public awareness regarding the card. A Veteran identification card, with photograph, supported by outreach efforts and public education, could be an option to explore. It was mentioned that Veterans’ license plate programs vary greatly across the country.

Forward Agenda

  • The next face-to-face meeting will be held between mid-November and end of December 2016.
  • The final Terms of Reference will be signed at the next meeting.
  • Future discussions will include the evolution of military commemoration going forward and 2017 military commemorations.
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