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Defence Community members receive Liz Hoffman Memorial Commendation for their work in our community

This past October, six members of the defence community were recognized for their work and dedication by the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces Ombudsman (DND/CAF Ombudsman).

“The Liz Hoffman Memorial Commendation recognizes individuals and groups who have exceeded expectations,” said Gregory A. Lick, DND/CAF Ombudsman. “Exceeding expectations can mean different things to different people. It can mean doing more than just “your job” to help colleagues resolve a difficult problem. It ultimately leads to a culture of fairness in the Defence community. For me, as Ombudsman, exceeding expectations means doing one key thing: bringing about positive and lasting change to the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces.”

Held on October 17, 2019 at the 18th annual commendations ceremony was held at the Warrant Officers’ and Sergeants’ Mess in Ottawa, Ontario. The recipients included Chief Warrant Officer David Ridley, Master Seaman River Leggat, Felicia Arsenault, and the Command Team of HMCS Carleton. 

The Liz Hoffman Memorial Commendation recognizes individuals and groups who have exceeded expectations in helping their colleagues resolve difficult problems, or have helped instigate a positive, lasting change to the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces. 

“Liz Hoffman was an investigator with our office who had a deeply-rooted sense of fairness. In both her career and her life outside the workplace, Liz went the extra mile in taking action to fulfill her vision of fairness for every member of the Defence community. 

This commendation promotes those in the Defence community who, like Liz, are dedicated to helping others and making a difference. The Liz Hoffman Memorial Commendation recognizes employees who have proven by both word and action that they want to make things better in the Defence community,” said Lick.

Guests in attendance included Major-General Guy Chapdelaine, chaplain general of the Canadian Armed Forces, Brigadier-General Simon Trudeau, Canadian Forces provost marshal, Mr. Gordon Venner, associate deputy minister of national defence; and Commodore Christopher Robinson, director-general naval strategic readiness.

Section supervisor in the Royal Canadian Navy, Master Seaman River Leggat, received the commendation for her role in ensuring respect and inclusivity within the CAF. 

“I remember my PO1 handing me a folder with a smile on her face when I had no idea what was going on,” explained Master Seaman Leggat. “[I was] sure that I was being pranked I opened it up, joking that it must contain my demotion paperwork. When I read through the letter telling me that I’d A) been nominated and B) won, I was shocked and surprised as I hadn’t even been aware that I’d been put forward.” 

She added, “It didn’t really hit me until I was listening to Mrs. Hoffman’s daughter explaining what the award meant to her and her family and I became both incredibly nervous to be in such prestigious company but also immensely honoured to be attending.”

As a transitioning member herself, Master Seaman Leggat empowered her fellow leaders by providing them with the tools and knowledge required to support LGBTQ+ members in the CAF. Her work revolves around creating an environment where all members feel safe to be true to themselves.

When speaking with regards to her commended work, MS Leggat explained, “All I did, and all I do, is give information that I wish myself and my chain of command had known before I started my own transition. Hopefully, my work can make other the experience of future LGBT+ members that much easier so that, eventually, it will all just be another routine thing.”

Felicia Arsenault, Manager of Military Family Services for Canadian Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM), received the commendation for going above and beyond to discover new resources for families in need. 

She explained, “It was unexpected and an absolute honour to be recognized in such high regard. Ms. Hoffman was a tremendous force, and I am fortunate to lead a team that strives to innovate to best support those we serve.”  

Arsenault was tasked with preserving, building upon, and improving relationships with local partnering organizations. 

Despite initial opposition and many challenges, within six months, Arsenault was able to create a welcoming space for families, organize a dedicated team, and establish a full advisory committee to focus on targeted program areas. 

“It started as something small and grew to something more. I’m proud to stand beside this year’s recipients who share in my beliefs that settling for status quo is not good enough. We can do better. No matter the size, the impact is there, and that’s where lasting change comes from,” she added.

Chief Warrant Officer David Ridley received a commendation because he routinely goes beyond the normal requirements and scope of his job with the Canadian Forces Military Police Academy, where he spends hours of his personal time addressing the needs of members of his unit.

To emphasize a safe and inclusive work environment, Chief Warrant Officer Ridley proposed and implemented the Canadian Forces Military Police Academy Diversity Ambassador Program – a program that fosters respect for others through positive and meaningful interactions.

Through his guidance and leadership, the program has flourished, joining the Borden Defence Visible Minority Advisory Group, liaising with the Borden Pride Network, hosting Defence Team positive space ambassador training, and participating in social activities to promote diversity. Events included a film screening, a multicultural potluck, and a lunch-and-learn that encouraged thoughtful discourse on police response to persons with disabilities.

The Command team of HMCS Carleton, Commander Sheyla Dussault, Lieutenant-Commander Chris Knowlton, and Chief Petty Officer 1st Class Nancy Lachance were recognized for going beyond the normal requirements of their jobs, identifying unfairness and bringing about positive and lasting change to the Canadian Armed Forces.

During the summer of 2018, the Command team of HMCS Carleton was made aware of a Reservist couple who were unable to attend logistics training with their newborn child. Their only option was to leave their newborn with a friend or neighbour during the six-week course. They were not allowed to stay on base with their child.

The Command team identified this as an issue of unfairness. They contacted the necessary authorities for approval so the couple could live off base with their newborn and attend the course. This was a difficult and novel situation as it was the first time a service couple was asking to go on course with their child.

To learn more about the Liz Hoffman Memorial Commendation, and this year’s recipients visit the DND/CAF Ombudsman’s website here

Above image: This year’s recipients and special guests, from left to right: Mr. Gregory A. Lick (Ombudsman), Dr. Andrea Hoffman, Chief Warrant Officer Martin Rousseau, Lieutenant-Commander Chris Knowlton, Brigadier-General Simon Trudeau (Canadian Forces Provost Marshal), Chief Petty Officer 1st Class Nancy Lachance, Chief Warrant Officer Robert Hains, Master Seaman River Leggat, Major-General Guy Chapdelaine (Chaplain General of the Canadian Armed Forces), Chief Warrant Officer David Ridley, Commodore Christopher Robinson (Director General Naval Strategic Readiness), Ms. Felicia Arsenault, and Commander Sheyla Dussault.

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Ambar Syed

Born and raised in London, England, Ambar moved to Canada in 2017 after marrying her husband in the CAF. She has always loved writing and started her blog, Her Little Loves, in 2015 while studying for her B.A. (Hons) in English. Ambar is excited to write for CMFMAG and contribute towards the military family community.

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