A Message from the Deputy Minister of National Defence

December 21, 2020 – Defence Stories

Message from the Deputy Minister of National Defence


2020 is almost behind us. I think we are all thankful for that. Certainly, for most Canadians, the year was defined by COVID-19, and will be remembered as the pandemic year.

But COVID has not defined this Defence Team. It has challenged us, absolutely. Challenged us as a team, as Canadians, and as global citizens. We worked to adapt, to pull together, and to find ways to be resilient as our environment shifted in real time.

This year has also been one in which our Defence Team family has suffered tragic losses of colleagues and friends working on Exercises or Operations; most recently Master Sailor Duane Earle this past week. Abbigail, Brenden, Kevin, Matthew, Matthew and Maxime; Jennifer; James; and Duane: we honour their memories, and remember their service.

Each of us has had to dig deep into our personal resilience to push through some truly difficult times. A lot of us have also sought support from colleagues, and from professional services available to us. I hope we all keep reaching out when we need support.

Throughout the year, we have earned Canadians’ trust and confidence that our Defence Team will be there when they need us. Each of you contributed to that effort, whether you were on site, working from home, or staying safe at home. Thank you. Sincerely. I appreciate what a challenge it has been to work throughout this time.

What’s even more gratifying is that this Defence Team is part of a whole of government effort to address Canadians’ COVID-related challenges. Our hardworking colleagues in different departments across the Public Service have likewise delivered in truly inspiring ways. Sincere thanks to all of them as well.

As a Defence Team, we have also learned a great deal, such as how critical connectivity is for work and well-being. And how we must strive to be better, more respectful, and more inclusive to one another. Not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because this Defence Team can only function effectively in an environment of trust and mutual respect.

This year is often described as “different”, as if that’s supposed to account for the fact that we can’t do the things we have traditionally done—be it the way we work, socialize or even just think about stepping out our own front doors. This has been made all the more trying since we could not identify an end point.

But now we can see the end point. We have viable COVID vaccines and our country is undertaking the largest and most complex vaccine rollout in our history. We can be enormously proud that we have exceptionally talented Defence Team colleagues working at the heart of the effort within the Public Health Agency of Canada.

While we now have hope, we must still be vigilant against the virus, especially during the holiday season. We must all stay safe. And then next year, we can all look back on our actions at this critical time, and take enormous pride that we did the right thing when it counted most.

I also want to tell each of you, from one Defence Team colleague to another, that I see the work you do, and the impact you make. And it is inspiring.

Wishing you a restful holiday season, and health and joy in 2021.

Jody Thomas
Deputy Minister of National Defence

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