Children’s deployment sacrifice honoured

An HMCS Winnipeg sailor pins a medal on his child.

Peter Mallett
Staff Writer

An Alberta grandfather of eight grandchildren, three of which have parents serving in the navy, believes children of deployed sailors deserve a medal for their service and sacrifice.

Medals For Children is an initiative launched by Earl Phillips, with the idea germinating after a family deployment update call with HMCS Calgary last spring. Someone asked about medals for children, an idea he liked, which prompted him to provide miniature medals to the crew.

When HMCS Winnipeg sailed, Phillips saw the opportunity to provide medals to them as well, and immediately contacted the ship to measure interest. The reaction was favourable. 

So, when HMCS Winnipeg returned from its deployment in the Indo-Pacific region on Dec. 16, 2021, a box of 120 shiny blue and bronze medals were waiting on the ship’s main deck to be distributed. 

The medals acknowledge the patience, heroism, and bravery of HMCS Winnipeg crew members’ children during their four-month deployment, he says.

Phillips designed and ordered the medals from an online distributor in B.C. at a cost of approximately $12 each. He used his own money and that of two corporate donors in his home town to pay the bill.

Both sides of the medal are coloured in blue and bronze. The front features a child’s hand reaching toward the hand of an adult; the reverse features the name of the ship – HMCS Winnipeg, and the dates of its deployment. It also includes a red and white ribbon.

He then worked with the Military Family Resource Centre (MFRC) Esquimalt to hand out the medals at Winnipeg’s homecoming.

“Children of deployed sailors are also making a commitment and sacrifice for the security of our nation by being separated from their parents, and they deserve a medal,” says Phillips. “For a four- or five-year-old boy or girl, I think this is powerful because it recognizes that they also paid a price during deployment.”

Reaction from parents and children at the homecoming was lots of smiles and laughter, says CPO1 Line Laurendeau, HMCS Winnipeg Coxswain.

“Receiving these medals was really a special moment for all of our crew and really helped members reconnect with their children during their return home. Our crew really enjoyed this and I would recommend continuing this initiative,” she says.

Phillips watched live video streaming of Winnipeg’s homecoming ceremony and was delighted to see sailors pinning the medal on their children’s jackets and sweaters on the deck of the ship.

“It has been overwhelming seeing the comments from parents of recipients and to see so many people joining our Facebook page and the kind of community support we are seeing for this initiative,” said Phillips. “After the Winnipeg deployment, many parents were commenting how much their children appreciated the medals and treasure them.”

He plans to keep the initiative going for future deployments of other ships and says he has already had interest from CPO1 Robert Ferguson of HMCS Vancouver.

Going forward, he hopes to have an already established charity take Medals for Children under their wing and help his initiative to ensure its longevity.  He says it would be a relationship where he would continue to fundraise and organize the provision and distribution of medals.

He has started discussions with The Navy League of Canada and Together We Stand Foundation and to see if they will take interest of his plan.


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