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Veterans Affairs Canada Commemoration Advisory Committee Record of Discussion

December 15, 2022
Virtual via MS Teams

In Attendance

Commemoration Advisory Group Members

  • Caitlin Bailey, Vimy Foundation
  • Simon Coakeley
  • Andree Gracie
  • Dr. Steve Harris, Directorate of History and Heritage, Department of National Defence
  • Derrill Henderson, National Council of Veteran Associations in Canada and Hong Kong Veterans Association of Canada
  • Anne Hurtubise
  • Robert Jardine
  • Captain (Retired) Ray Kokkonen, Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association
  • Captain (Retired) Danny Martin, Royal Canadian Legion
  • Major (Retired) Gerry Wharton, Army, Navy & Air Force Veterans in Canada
  • Dr. Lee Windsor, University of New Brunswick Gregg Centre (Co-chair)

Guests

  • Wayne Mac Culloch, CD, National President of the Canadian Association of Veterans in United Nations Peacekeeping
  • Brigadier-General (Ret’d) Greg Mitchell, Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association

Regrets

  • John Moses

Veterans Affairs Canada Officials

  • Paul Thomson, Director General, Commemoration Division (Co-chair)
  • Sylvie Thibodeau-Sealy, Director, Policy, Learning and Commemoration
  • Karen Rose, Senior Analyst, Stakeholder Engagement and Outreach
  • Rylee Karpov, Project Officer, Stakeholder Engagement and Outreach

Office of the Minister of Veterans Affairs

  • John Embury, Director of Communications

Observer

  • Jamie Morse, Office of the Veterans Ombudsman

Opening Remarks

The VAC co-chair welcomed the members and thanked them for being available on short notice to discuss two items: the 2023 commemorative banners and the 2023 theme: CAF in Asia - The Year of the Peacekeeping Veteran.

2023 Banners

The Director, Policy, Learning and Commemoration presented the banners being considered as part of 2023 and the year of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) in Asia and which align with the Commemoration Strategic Plan. The banners recognize peacekeeping in Cambodia, Afghanistan and East Timor and include images from each of these locations. VAC worked with the CAF on the images. The banners have a similar look and feel to 2021-22 banners.

Discussion

  • Questions raised around diversity of the banner images.
  • Concerns around the clarity of the theme in relation to the Afghanistan banner since it is not considered a peacekeeping mission.
  • The VAC Co-Chair highlighted that Afghanistan is a part of the CAF in Asia thematic but agreed to take a further look at how peacekeeping (In the Service of Peace) is displayed on the banners and possibly refocus on the CAF in Asia theme.
  • Banners from previous years were shown as examples.
  • All agree that the 2023 banners need minor revisions before production.

Year of the Peacekeeping Veteran

The VAC Co-Chair indicated that VAC is working on declaring 2023 as the Year of the Peacekeeping Veteran. 2023 is the 75th anniversary of the creation of the UN Security Council and the 35th Anniversary of the Nobel Peace Prize for UN Peacekeepers. There are many commemorative activities planned around this theme with more to come on how the Year of the Peacekeeping Veteran will be declared.

It was mentioned that the Year of the Peacekeeping Veteran is supported by many Veterans’ organisations including the Royal Canadian Legion, Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association (CPVA) , the Canadian Association of Veterans in United Nations Peacekeeping, the heads of the Army, Navy and Air Force and the Canadian Core of Indigenous Veterans.

Two guest speakers were introduced and invited to speak to their organizations plans to commemorate 2023 The Year of the Peacekeeping Veteran.

Wayne Mc Culloch, Canadian Association of Veterans in United Nations Peacekeeping presented on the work the organization is doing to celebrate 75 years of Peacekeeping, the various operations that took place in Canadian history and in recognition that currently the CAF predominately support peace operations and humanitarian aid. He noted the work he is doing with Veterans Affairs Canada in support of 2023 and that CAVUNP is planning a number of events across the country as well as producing a lapel pin that will be available to the public.

Greg Mitchell, Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association (CPVA) shared a presentation on their organizations’ plans including the development of “PK75: A Peacekeeping Anthology” that focuses on Canada’s historic contributions to peacekeeping through the eyes of individual Canadian peacekeepers. They will also be having a special exhibition event to commemorate the year and the 75th anniversary of peacekeeping in Ottawa. More information will be available later and members and VAC will be invited to participate.

Discussion:

  • Concern about Afghanistan Veterans not feeling recognized within the Year of the Peacekeeping Veteran as a component of the CAF in Asia theme; suggestion that Afghanistan Veterans have their own year of recognition.
  • The challenge going forward will be to ensure that modern day Veterans are recognized and that their services resonates with Canadians.

Closing Remarks

  • The VAC Co-Chair thanked members for meeting on short notice, and for a productive discussion, and wished members Happy Holidays.

Addendum: The 2023 banners were updated and shared with the Commemoration Advisory Group members again in January.

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