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Record of Discussion – Commemoration Advisory Group Meetings

December 8, 2016, 0830 – 1600 (EST) /
February 2, 2017, 1330 – 1500 (EST) (Teleconference)

In Attendance

  • Richard Blackwolf, Canadian Aboriginal Veterans and Serving Members Association
  • Linda Brunet, Encounters With Canada
  • 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, Director General, Commemoration, Veterans Affairs Canada (Departmental co-chair)
  • Gerry Wharton, The Army Navy and Air Force Veterans in Canada
  • Dr. Lee Windsor, University of New Brunswick Gregg Centre

Note: As discussions spanned the December 8, 2016 face-to-face meeting and the February 2, 2017 teleconference, the Commemoration Advisory Group agreed that only one record of discussion encompassing the deliberations of both meetings is required.

National Memorial to Canada’s Mission in Afghanistan

The Commemoration Advisory Group has been tasked by the Minister to advise him on the location for the memorial. In July 2016, the Group received a briefing from the Department of Canadian Heritage and the National Capital Commission on four possible sites for the memorial: Richmond Landing; a site near the Canadian War Museum; outside Cartier Square Drill Hall; and near the Canadian Phalanx on Lyon Street at Wellington Street, before endorsing Richmond Landing.

In October 2016, the majority of participants at the Stakeholder Summit supported a site west of the Canadian War Museum, with an overwhelming recommendation for the department to consult more broadly with those who served as part of the Afghanistan mission. Deliberation regarding a consultation process is ongoing.

Both the Richmond Landing and Canadian War Museum sites require soil decontamination, with an estimated cost of $500,000 for either location that is considered manageable within the $5 million allocated to the memorial project. Richmond Landing has received federal land use approval. Should the Canadian War Museum area be the preferred site for the memorial, federal land use approval would need to be sought from the National Capital Commission Board.

Veterans and suicide

A presentation on Veterans’ mental health and suicide was provided by representatives from Veterans Affairs Canada’s Research Directorate and Health Professionals Directorate. The presentation stressed the importance of commemorating service rather than incentivizing suicide in the minds of vulnerable people. The Commemoration Advisory Group agreed to continue discussing this important matter.

The presentation provided a foundation upon which to discuss a request from the Minister of Veterans Affairs for the Commemoration Advisory Group to advise him on possible locations to install a plaque created to honour Lieutenant-Colonel Sam Sharpe, a Member of Parliament and First World War Veteran, who died as a result of suicide. The initial plan was to install the plaque in Parliament Hill’s Centre Block. However, given potential protocol challenges with respect to installing a memorial there, the Group recommended the plaque not be placed in that location and began exploring ideas for other locations with political, military or mental health significance. No recommendation was made.

Next meeting

The next face-to-face meeting is expected to take place in the spring of 2017.

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