Aboriginal Veterans Day

Today (21st June) the Aboriginal Veterans Autochtones celebrated and remembered the veterans of indigenous heritage by holding the annual Remembrance Ceremony at the Aboriginal War Veterans monument in Ottawa. It was a perfect day with temperatures in the high teens, a coolish breeze, and blue sky smattered with clouds. In attendance was the Commander of the Canadian Army, LGen. Paul Wynnyk, the Deputy Minister of Veterans Affairs, Walt Natynczyk, and Veterans Affairs Ombudsman, Guy Parent, all of whom laid wreaths in remembrance. Many other veterans groups attended, including the Canadian Association of Veterans in United Nations Peacekeeping and the Korean Veterans Association (KVA) who assisted in the organization and parts of the ceremony. Other attendance was quite good for such a niche ceremony held in the middle of the week with probably around 200 present.

The ceremony itself followed the standard pattern of remembrance with the Commitment to Remember, the Last Post, the Silence, the Rouse, and the laying of the wreaths and lasted about 40 minutes. However, the Aboriginal ceremonies have some special touches found nowhere else, such as a smudging ceremony to cleanse the area and the bringing of the Eagle Staff ahead of the flags of the Colour Party. There was also a drumming group in attendance who played prior to and during the ceremony.

At the end, LGen. Wynnyk was asked to come forward and he was presented with a ribbon shirt which he accepted on behalf of the Army and the Canadian Armed Forces. He was then asked to present the Aboriginal Veteran Millennium Medal to Capt. Stanley in recognition of her service, completion of her degree, and her commitment to keeping and promoting native culture and lifestyle. The ceremony completed, the assemblage retired to the Lord Elgin Hotel for a reception.

To see all the pictures, CLICK HERE.

Victory Encampment

The Ottawa Tulip Festival is an event which celebrates the arrival of Spring with the blooms of over a million tulips and is a sight to see but many people forget the symbology of the tulips in this case. It is actually a remembrance of the service Canada rendered to the people of the Netherlands during the WWII when Canada provided refuge to the royal family of the Netherlands (Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard) and their daughter (Princess Beatrix) went to primary school here until the end of the war. They also remember the part that the Canadian troops played in the liberation of the Netherlands.

Now, one doesn’t normally associate the Tulip Festival with WWII battles and re-enactors but this year the Swords and Ploughshares Museum, the Perth Regiment, and the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion, representing the Allies, proved equal to the task of defeating the German Army, represented by the Kampfgruppe Haase, in the field. On the Great Lawn at Lansdowne Park the two forces had setup camps showing both uniforms and equipment from WWII for the Saturday and Sunday of the Tulip Festival. On Saturday afternoon, they had a re-enactment of the Canadian forces liberating the Netherlands by having a battle where the tactics and weaponry of the Canadians were explained to the audience as the battle raged on. There was artillery provided by the Swords and Ploughshares Museum pounding away at the Germans who responded with their own artillery piece as well as deploying troops and vehicles to counter the Allied attack. No matter how much the Germans wanted to change history, it was not to be on this day as they slowly took too many casualties to continue and eventually surrendered to the Canadians.

In the camp, there was a good display of tents and equipment from both sides and the re-enactors were more than happy to take time out to talk to those walking by. In one display, there was a water cooled Vickers Machine Gun which has a water cooled barrel. We were told that when tea was required, someone would fire off two belts of ammunition in the direction of the Germans and that heated the water to almost boiling, which was then removed and used to make tea. On the German side there was a BMW R71 motorcycle with side car and MG-35 machine gun that was interesting as well as an MG-42 machine gun that, depending on the configuration, could fire 1200 rounds per minute (rpm) but for infantry use would shoot at about 600 rpm.

In the end, although enemies on the field, everyone left as friends looking forward to the Big Band Dance to follow in the evening.

To see all the pictures, CLICK HERE


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Grande Premiere 2017


to see all the pictures, CLICK HERE

Saturday night saw another graduation of the Richard Robinson Academy of Fashion Design where first and second year students showed their designs at the end of the year. It was held at the Palais de Congres in Gatineau.

This year the show started with the Robinson’s grandchildren doing a small teaser of fashions for children followed by the first year students collections. Following a quick intermission, there were diverse groupings of 2nd year students and other groups presenting collections such as bustiers, cosutmes (1920s), winter coats, as well as individual collections. It was followed by awards including best designer and best model which was decided by a panel of judges at the show that evening.

to see all the pictures, CLICK HERE
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Lame Ducks Hockey

OSAA Lame Ducks did hockey battle against DPFL3 (Direcorate of Protocol and Foreign Liaison) of DND in preparation for their big away game this weekend in Toronto. They were in fine trim as they started hard, ending the first period 8-0. After that, the scoreboard just stayed blank out of respect for DPFL3. I lost count and don’t really know the final score but I know DPFL scored once.

There were some standouts for the Ducks, particularly Kozlov of the Russian Federation and first time goalie from Israel, Adam Susman. It should be noted that out of the 8 players for DPFL, only three were from DPFL, one who plays with them regularly, and four Lame Ducks who weren’t going to Toronto this weekend so could play the opposition against their own team.

to see all the pictures CLICK HERE
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Aero 150 Airshow

Well, today was the big airshow day for Aero 150 held at the Gatineau Executive Airport. The guests of honour and the closing show was to be the Patrouille de France if weather permitted a show at all as there was a special weather advisory out for rain in the afternoon. The day started overcast, cold, and wet but without the wind of the day before. Those who got there early were there to see the Patrouille arrive in sections along with their supporting aircraft, an Airbus A400.

Shortly before noon, LGen Mike Hood, Commander of the RCAF, addressed the crowd and then the Skyhawks took to the air to do their jump from the Chinook and to show the French flag in honour of the French guests. It went uneventfully until the last jumper who had to cut loose his parachute and use his reserve. No danger at all but it reminds people that bad things can happen. After this, the airshow started.

There was a small fly-by by the CP-140 Aurora, the snowbirds did their show (covered yesterday in my previous post) and a couple of passes by the CT-155 Hawks before they went home. All this time the weather is closing in and had started raining, although not heavily yet. There was a small aerobatic show by a Starduster followed by the Corsair, Hurricane, and Mustang of Vintage Wings of Canada. The weather still held. And finally it was time for the Patrouille de France.

They taxied down the runway to takeoff position and the rain got a little heavier. They lifted off and the rain got a little heavier. By the time they started their show, it was raining heavily enough that the solo aircraft remained on the ground for safety reasons and I would have to say that the Patrouille show was shorter than I expected. With low ceiling and steady rain at this point it’s no wonder.

Photography was a bear for this show as I had to deal with the rain and the background of solid gray. When looking at the pictures I discovered that what I thought was grain in the pictures was actually raindrops and the clarity of pictures taken from a distance was whitewashed with mist and rain. Shooting against that gray sky is a nightmare leading to overexposure and blown out pictures. Notwithstanding, I had stayed the entire day, was cold and wet and I was taking pictures, good or bad.

To see all the pictures, CLICK HERE:

To see yesterdays’ pictures, CLICK HERE


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Aero150 Media Day

Today was a beautiful day for an airshow with temperature in the teens, blue sky, and nobody other than photographers on the airfield because today was Media Day, not airshow day. Airshow day for Aero 150 is Sunday and, although it was quite windy today (Saturday), Sunday is forecast for cold and rain so we’ll see if the show even goes on. It would be a shame if it didn’t because the star performers are the Patrouille de France, the French aerobatic team, on their only Canadian stop.

Today was a day for the media to see what the airshow was all about, with static displays (not all) to look around and some of the aircraft flying practice sessions. Today saw the Skyhawks and their Chinook Helicopter do one practice drop, displaying the French flag on the way down, and several passes by a RCAF Aurora. The Snowbirds also did their practice routine today and looked as sharp as ever.

So today’s challenge were using a long lense in high wind (acts like a sail), slow shutter speeds to get propeller blur, and refraction from taking long distance pictures (500 mm lense) when you have rising heat waves between you and the aircraft. Along with propeller blur issues with the Aurora, the Chinook causes even more issues because helicopter blades rotate so much slower than aircraft propeller blades. Notwithstanding, there are lots of Chinook pictures, even more Snowbird pictures, and a smattering of skydivers and CT-155 Hawk Trainer.

With airshows being a rare thing these days, it was a pleasant way to spend the day, especially without the crowds that are expected for the airshow.

to see all the pictures CLICK HERE


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102nd ANZAC Commemoration

Australians and New Zealanders have been commemorating the landings at Gallipoli during the Great War since 1916 and “…it has become the national day of commemoration to remember those Australians and New Zealanders who died during WWI, WWII, and all subsequent wars and peacekeeping operations in which both countries have been involved.” according to Wing Commander Mike Salvador, the newly arrived New Zealand Defence Advisor who was the master of ceremonies at this years’ 102nd ANZAC Day, held at the Canadian War Museum on the 25th of April, 2017. Although all chairs were filled, it was a smaller ceremony than in the past couple of years which were filled to capacity with standing room only. Also absent this year was anyone of significance from the Canadian government who, in the past, has been represented by the Governor-General and/or the Prime Minister or a senior Minister. And although the Chief of Defence Staff was also absent, he was ably and appropriately represented by LGen. Paul Wynnyk, Commander of the Canadian Army.

The ceremony started with the posting of sentries around three stacked rifles, a hymn and a prayer, and then an address by His Excellency Daniel Mellsop, High Commissioner of New Zealand. During his speech he reiterated that although this commemorates the Gallipoli landings, it also includes the huge losses on the western front during WWI and all the losses of military personnel since. LGen Wynnyk responded after which Mustafa Kemal Atakturk’s Memoriam was read by His Excellency Selçuk Ünal, Ambassador to Turkey and the Ode “For the Fallen” was read my His Excellency Tony Negus, High Commissioner of Australia. From this point, the ceremony resembled most remembrance ceremonies with the Last Post, the Rouse, and laying of wreaths.

What is unique about this ceremony is that both combatants participate in the remembrance understanding that both sides had losses and that the Australia and New Zealands once enemy is now the protector of their cherished dead and that Turkey has risen to that responsibility with reverence and care for its’ once enemy. This is truly unique as you don’t see this in other remembrance ceremonies.

Afterwards, all were invited to join the High Commissioners of New Zealand and Australia at a morning tea in the Canadian War Museum lobby and let me say that if this was just tea, then I would expect New Zealanders and Australians to be much fatter than they appear to be. Fruit, juices, piggies in a blanket, huge croissants, cookies, and other munchies I think constitutes more than “tea”.

to see all the pictures from the ceremony, CLICK HERE:

100th Anniversary of Vimy Ridge

At long last it has come time to commemorate a moment in Canadian history that arguably helped define the Canadian identity and make Canada more than just a British colony. Today, April 9th, 2017, is the 100th anniversary of the Battle for Vimy Ridge, a four day battle in France in World War 1 that saw 3,600 Canadians die in the struggle to take a hill that had so far eluded the allies. Much has been written on the battle but the gist of its’ importance to Canada is that Canadians fought for the first time with all four Canadian Divisions as a unit, planned the attack using innovative and new techniques, and took the objective, albeit at great cost. The commemorative ceremony in Ottawa is broken down into two components: the first on the evening of the 8th is a candlelight ceremony at the National War Memorial (NWM) followed the next morning by the remembrance ceremony.

This year the Candlelight Ceremony started at 1930 hours and was largely an affair featuring the Royal Canadian Army Cadets (RCAC) as they posted sentries around the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, hosted veterans, and provided the Master of Ceremonies. It was started by an aboriginal song and dance which was then followed by an address by Parliamentary Secretary for Veterans Affairs, Sherry Romanado, representing the government, who spoke about the sacrifice of Canadians in the Great War.

At this point a musical interlude was provided by Christopher MacFarlane and Oliver Piggot who sang “The Vimy Ridge Song”, by Michael J. Moore. In my opinion, it was a moving song, sung with feeling and power and if you get a chance, you should search for it and give it a listen.

Dark was descending quickly at this point and it was time for the passing of the Torch of Remembrance by RCAC Chief Warrant Officer Robichaud to members of various veterans groups in turn symbolizing the passing of the torch from one generation to another. And then it was time for the candles. The public was invited to move to the NWM and place candles along the front and sides while the cadet cadre moved with precision on either side of the Memorial to start placing candles at the rear face.

As the last presentation, the public were asked to move to the front of the NWM and they were then treated to a show about the Great War and the Vimy Memorial, projected onto the NWM, with side screens to add additional information about the projections. With the last vestiges of the blue sky as background, it was quite effective.

That ended the Candlelight Ceremony for this year and the cadets now stood post at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier until the Remembrance Ceremony the next morning.

The next morning at 0830, the Remembrance Ceremony started under a blue sky and brilliant sun with cool (not cold) temperatures and more closely followed the format of most ceremonies of this type. Bands marched on as did troops to stand on the esplanade of the NWM while invited guests were up by the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Cadets and other dignitaries were seated on chairs on both sides of the esplanade on the sidewalk along Elgin Street, some way back from the official ceremony.

It started with the posting of the sentries around the Tomb which are the first sentries of the season and will remain posted until November 11th. Once the sentries were in place there was a native smudging ceremony which allowed a cleansing smoke bath to purify the area. Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, then addressed the audience, and was followed by native drumming by Dave Hookimaw. Once the drumming was finished, Sierra Noble, a violinist born in Ottawa and raised in Winnipeg, came forward to play an original work called, “Warrior’s Lament”. She presented a unique sight for one of these events as she stood in a flowing white dress, face bathed in sunshine, in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and played with skill and emotion.

From this point, the ceremony pretty much followed the standard format until the end where cages of white pigeons were released into the sky where they gathered and circled a couple of times before they headed off back home.

If one is wondering why there was no significant presence by the military or politicians one needs to remember that Canada has the Vimy Memorial in France, on ground ceded to Canada for all time, that also hosted ceremonies this day. The Governor-General, Prime Minister, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Chief of the Defence Staff were all at that ceremony representing Canada.

to see all the pictures from the two ceremonies, CLICK HERE.


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Lame Ducks, GOFOs, and Commandos

The second series of games of the Commando Challenge were played at the University of Ottawa on Wednesday afternoon (27th) with surprising outcomes and a nice cheque for the Navy League of Canada.

The first game was played between the Esprit de Corps Commando Lites team against the OSAA Lame Ducks, a team of defence attachés from various embassies around town. It was a well contested match with good skating on both sides and enough determination to start a war. Although closely fought, the Lame Ducks emerged victorious, 3 to 1, to even the series at one game apiece.

The second game, between the Esprit de Corps Commandos and the General Officers and Flag Officers of DND (GOFOs), was a different game altogether. The skill level was clearly a notch up on both sides with fast skating, good puck handling, and a few bits of contact (accidental I’m sure) and penalties. The Commandos started off badly with their goalie, Miles Reid, sustaining an injury during the warm up with a possible broken thumb that bled profusely but once it was wrapped up, he endured the pain and played the whole game. The game was close going into the third period with the GOFOs taking the lead 3-2 late in the third. With the Commando goalie pulled for the extra player, the Commandos pressed hard for the last 2 minutes but a long clearing shot from the GOFOs put the nail in the coffin as it coasted into the empty goal. Final score, 4-2 for the GOFOs, evening the series at 1-1.

At the reception, recognition was given to the MVPs of each team and a cheque was presented to the Navy League of Canada for $3800.00 while players and spectators helped themselves to pizza and hot dogs server by Dave Smith.

So, the stage is set for the final series of games on 01 June, 2017, at the Jim Durrel Arena with the Lites and Lame Ducks tied at 1-1 and the Commandos and GOFOs also at 1-1 in the three game series. Come out and support the teams and the charities for what will be a promising event.

To see all the pictures, CLICK HERE:


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CDA Institute Conference on Security and Defence 2017

Once again the Conference of Defence Associations Institute (CDAI) has hosted the Conference on Security and Defence, moving the venue from the Chateau Laurier to the Shaw Centre. Attendance was good although it looked sparser than in previous years but this can be put down to the fact that the new venue was so much larger than the old that the same number of people looks lesser in the larger space. Attending was a good smattering of Defence Liaison Officers (Poland, Netherlands, Germany, China, Korea, and Britain to name a few), military (Generals to RMC Officer Cadets), ex-military, and defence and industry pundits. In all, it was a varied turnout which made talks at coffee breaks very interesting with a diversity of opinion.

There were awards presented with the first being the 2016 Ross Munro Media Award to Richard Maden of CTV who was, unfortunately, unable to attend. There was also a presentation of the Merchant Navy Commemorative Theme Project Award presented to former Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Walt Natynczyk in recognition of his work with the forces and with veterans. He gave a very impassioned acceptance noting how everyone owes a debt of gratitude to veterans and to do all that we can for them.

There seemed to be less keynote speakers this year with the only big name being Gen. Jonathan Vance, CDS of the CAF who spoke for almost an hour and answered questions for another 25 minutes. His “state of the union” addressed the accomplishments of the CAF over the past year and is too encompassing for this blog but it was very positive and also mentioned the upcoming deployments to Africa and Latvia and upcoming capital procurements.

The humorous highlight of his Q&A session was when female RMC Officer Cadet Sanfaçon asked that, as the CAF was driving to get more women in the Forces, was there was any movement in getting operational kit (body armour, rucksacks) that is more suited to women. This is especially important to people like her as she is diminutive in stature (4’ 11” and less than 100 pounds) and the current operational kit is made for a standard male at 5’ 11” and 175 pounds and is not practical or functional for women. Gen. Vance replied:

“ … I hear you sister. I’m like 5’ 7” and I’ve been chafing against this stuff my entire career too. My body armour rides up to here. … Look, you’re right. … Seriously, you’re right. Army commander – do better. Talk to Gen. Wynnyk, it’s all his fault. Don’t get me going about boots!”

Other presentations included the presentation of the Strategic Outlook 2017 by Kim Nossal, a presentation on the upcoming Invictus Games in Toronto by Michael Burns, General Lori Robinson, Commander of NORAD & US Northern Command, USA, France’s Général de Division Aérienne, Gen. Philippe Montocchio, and a mediated talk with the Honourable Rona Ambrose where she covered many topics but noted that procurement, for the most part, goes very well, but all the public hears about are the larger projects and only when they run into snags.

The panels were also very interesting with the first addressing Reviewing Canadian Defence Policy and included retired CDS, Gen. (ret’d) Tom Lawson. After the panel Mr. Lawson was asked about his opinion on the appointment of Gen (ret’d) Jim Mattis as U.S. Secretary of Defence in the new Trump government and he answered quite favourably:

“I think Gen. Mattis is a great choice. He’s the right man, in the right position, at the right time. He knows Canadians and he likes Canadians.”

The other panel on day 1 addressed the Canada-US Relations in the Trump Era and was going along quite nicely with panelists saying that President Trump will eventually normalize once he realizes what he can and can’t do. Unfortunately, President Trump had decided to hold a 75 minute impromptu press conference at the same time as the panel was convening which some of the audience had tuned into. It was brought up in the Q&A that it was unfortunate that the panelists were not cognizant of this at the time of their presentation as if they were, they would not use the word “normal” in the same sentence as “Trump”.

The panels of day 2 were on NATO’s Pivot Countries and Their Threats, and Great Powers and Interventionism which only served to outline where NATO should have concerns and how superpowers such a China are encroaching on other countries (such as building defence positions on the Spratly Islands belonging to the Philippines) around the world but staying just below the level of belligerence.

All in all, there was a tremendous amount of information presented and perhaps more detail on each topic will be presented here in the future.

to see all the images (mostly podium shots) CLICK HERE:


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