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

Ombudsman Message

October 24, 2017

On October 19, 2017, in a ceremony in Ottawa, my office presented the Liz Hoffman Memorial Commendation to four dedicated members of the Defence community.

The Liz Hoffman Memorial Commendation recognizes individuals and groups who have gone the extra mile and exceeded expectations in helping their colleagues resolve a difficult problem or in bringing about positive and lasting change to the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces.

Many distinguished guests attended the ceremony to highlight the extraordinary dedication and inspiration put forth by the recipients. The Honourable Jean Rioux, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence; the Honourable Sherry Romanado, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, as well as several Parliamentarians and members of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs and the Standing Committee on National Defence were present.

It was an honour to recognize Ms. Margaret A. MacKenzie, Ms. Marie-Claude Michaud, Mrs. Cynthia Mills and Ms. Michelle Levesque for their outstanding leadership.

Ms. Margaret A. MacKenzie

Connecting with military families can sometimes be challenging. They may be posted in remote locations, or may find it difficult to visit their local Military Family Resource Centre in person.

Noticing this support gap, Ms. Margaret MacKenzie created a virtual outreach program in Europe, bringing together more than 600 Canadian Armed Forces families in 16 countries. Connecting virtually allowed these families access to essential information on services and programs while providing a network of support.

As the Virtual Program Coordinator for the Military Family Resource Centre in Prince Edward Island, Ms. MacKenzie and her team developed a 12-week training program that has taught many Defence community service providers how to adapt a live presentation to an interactive virtual audience.

Virtual outreach has shown more than 700 military families how to access scholarships, saving families tens of thousands of dollars in post-secondary education. Another notable session is the virtual Ceilidh, using music to share stories and struggles.

Ms. Margaret MacKenzie is an exceptional teacher and community leader whose innovation has given the Defence community a way of connecting that previously did not exist.

Ms. Marie-Claude Michaud

As Executive Director of the Valcartier Family Centre, Ms. Marie-Claude Michaud’s commitment and perseverance in advancing the cause of military families has made a significant impact in the Defence community.

After noticing staff exhaustion at the Centre, Ms. Michaud made changes to vastly improve the work environment and client services. She designed and implemented the Caring Leadership policy, a code of conduct with tools to build a workplace that fosters care and kindness.

Ms. Michaud implemented the first provincial symposium for Military Family Resource Centres, providing staff from Quebec’s service centres the opportunity to discuss concerns, create solutions and share experiences.

She also mobilized 32 resource centres across Canada and created a petition, presented in the House of Commons, so military families could express their interests in the new defence policy. To further this initiative, she organized a meeting on Parliament Hill.

Military Family Resource Centres face uncertain financing which led Ms. Michaud to create the first Military Family Resource Centre foundation in Canada. This initiative secured funding for the Valcartier Centre, ensuring quality service for military families.

Mrs. Cynthia Mills and Ms. Michelle Levesque

Mrs. Cynthia Mills, a military spouse and journalist, saw a need in her community after reading a blog post from a military member’s sister whose brother became lost in the system. Heartbroken by the tragic story, Mrs. Mills was inspired to create the Canadian Military Family Magazine.

Mrs. Mills envisioned a tool that would provide information and give a voice to military families, and with fellow military spouse and journalist Ms. Michelle Levesque, the Canadian Military Family Magazine has become that tool – covering a variety of topics specific to Canadian military families including deployment support, relocation and raising military families.

The magazine guides families to local programs and services, keeps them connected with activities in their communities, and tells the stories that need to be told to provide real and positive change for Canadian military families.

With the Canadian Military Family Magazine, Mrs. Mills and Ms. Levesque go above and beyond with each issue that is published. They now hire journalists and Magazines Canada accepted their publication as a member earlier this year.

I would like to once again thank these outstanding individuals for their hard work and dedication. They are a true reflection of the high standard for which Canada's Defence community strives.

Gary Walbourne

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