Ombudsman Recognizes Five Extraordinary Members of Canada’s Defence Community with the Liz Hoffman Memorial Commendation

Message from the Ombudsman | 15 October 2020

On October 15, 2020, I was very pleased to award the Liz Hoffman Memorial Commendation to five dedicated members of the Defence community.

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

This year’s awards were held virtually due to Covid-19 restrictions. However, our distinguished guests sent their congratulations to the recipients by video. These guests included the Minister of National Defence, Harjit Sajjan; the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Jonathan Vance; Chief Executive Officer of Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services, Mr. Sean Cantelon; Chaplain General Major-General Guy Chapdelaine, and Dr. Andrea Hoffman, Liz Hoffman’s daughter.

It is an honour to recognize this year’s recipients of the Liz Hoffman Memorial Commendation

Captain John S. Niles

As Wing Chaplain of 16 Wing, CFB Borden, Captain John S. Niles is an ardent defender and community organizer for LGBTQ+ military members.

To combat the isolation and harassment issues that threaten the mental health of these members, Captain Niles has worked to assist individuals as well as to encourage action in the community.

In 2015, he founded what has become the Borden Pride Network, an important link between the local military community and civilian pride networks. Captain Niles also advocated through various chains of command to deal with mistreatment, he served as and trained Positive Space Ambassadors to change Base and Wing culture, and he proposed universal washrooms at 16 Wing to accommodate transgender military members.

Grounded in a broad sense of LGBTQ+ community solidarity, Captain Niles created a knowledge transfer template which aided in the creation of military Pride Networks on Wings and Bases across Canada. He has also served as an advisor in the creation of a National Pride Network for which the first Vice-Chair was a former member of the Borden Pride Network. 

Mrs. Devon Travers

Mrs. Travers routinely goes beyond the normal requirements and scope of her job as PSP United Kingdom Coordinator, spending hours of her personal time addressing the needs of members of her detachment.

To build morale and reduce workplace tensions, Mrs. Travers proposed and implemented “Monthly Meet-Up” social events to promote team building and thereby fostering respect for others through positive and meaningful interactions. Events have included music trivia and pumpkin carving sessions, themed potlucks, hikes, cookie exchanges, Secret Santa sessions, mocktail tournaments, BBQs and games.

Through Mrs. Travers’ guidance and leadership, conflict resolution and diversity promotion activities and virtual programing have flourished. She has encouraged Detachment participation in workplace interventions, solidified links with the CFMWS LGBTQ+ friends and allies network, and has organized physical as well as virtual tours to encourage cultural and historical awareness during events such as Black History Month.

Under the leadership of Mrs. Travers, these initiatives have fostered a sense of responsibility and built mutual trust, respect, honour, and dignity amongst all members. They serve to ensure members and staff of the PSP United Kingdom Detachment have a work place that is healthy, life-affirming, and welcoming for all.

Mr. Chad Phinney, Mr. Todd Stride and Ms. Vanessa Walsh

The CFMWS leadership team go above and beyond the requirements of their jobs to bring about positive and lasting change to the Canadian Armed Forces.

The team leaders are willing and able to develop and implement innovative solutions to military family issues. They do this in the spirit of loyalty to the people they serve as well as respect for the integrity of policy and the principles of fairness.

In terms of primary health care, the team leaders listened to the concerns expressed by military family members across Canada and then launched a series of innovative solutions. These solutions include third party provision of virtual primary health care to over 1,000 military family members, a partnership with Calian Limited to recruit family physicians in more than 12 Canadian communities, as well as working with the Canadian Pediatric Society and the College of Family Physicians of Canada to develop military family health awareness and accreditation programs for physicians. Another notable and innovative solution is the team’s partnership with Strongest Families and Kids Help Phone to deliver mental health support to military families.

The team leaders have also been innovative in creating and implementing spousal employment programming. This programming includes the Military Spouse Employment Network, a self-directed resource that provides employer and job opening access to over 3,100 military spouse registrants. Three other notable programming examples are the Online Career Counselling “Your Career Path” service that provides one-on-one military spouse counselling sessions with professional career counsellors, as well as virtual career fairs and “Work it Out with MFS” career development webinars for military spouses.

I would like to once again thank these outstanding individuals for their commitment and dedication to their work, which has made a significant contribution to promoting a culture of fairness in the Defence community.

Gregory A. Lick 

Ombudsman

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