Vice Admiral Angus Topshee: Farewell Message

VAdm Angus Topshee, outgoing commander Maritime Forces Pacific (MARPAC) and Joint Task Force Pacific (JTF(P)), addresses the crowd during the Change of Command ceremony at Duntze Head on May 16. Photo: Sailor First Class Kendric Grasby, Maritime Forces Pacific Imagery Services

To the thousands of great Canadians, sailors, soldiers, aviators, and operators in uniform, as well as the civilian public servants and contractors who enable and support them within Maritime Forces Pacific (MARPAC) and Joint Task Force Pacific (JTF(P)):

I want to start by acknowledging that much of what MARPAC does takes place on the traditional lands of the lək̓ʷəŋən-speaking people and specifically the Esquimalt and Songhees nations. As I prepare to leave these lands to head to Ottawa, I want to thank all of the indigenous people I’ve met in the course of my duties for sharing their lands and knowledge with me. I promise to continue to work on the difficult, but essential task of reconciliation in my next assignment.

When I took command last May, I asked all of the military personnel in MARPAC and JTF(P) to commit to duty. To serve Canada and Canadians loyally, to put that service before ourselves and to be ready to help, ready to lead, and ready to fight while respecting the rights and dignity of every person. I asked all of the public servants to commit to stewardship and innovation to make best use of the resources assigned to us. I also asked all of us, military and civilian alike, to serve with integrity and empathy. The task I set was to understand and acknowledge the needs, goals, and desires of every person we work with inside or outside of the defence team. To respect their dignity and strive to build an inclusive and welcoming workplace that maximizes the potential of every individual. While we still have work to do, we have made progress thanks to initiatives like CODE training, critical conversations with affected persons, trauma informed first aid training, and a renewed focus on the divisional system. This progress must continue, as creating an equitable, diverse, inclusive, and empowering culture is the only way we will be able to meet the challenges we face today.

There is a lot of different units and people I wish to thank, but it would be impossible to write them all down. Every organization has faced its challenges as we cope with the pandemic and personnel shortages. As I reflect upon my 367 days in command of MARPAC and JTF(P), I am struck by an overwhelming sense of gratitude – it takes a collective effort to succeed, and the work of everyone working in the formation matters immensely. Thank you to each and every one of you. Merci à chacun d’entre vous.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my family. My career has asked a lot of them, with moves every second or third year, and they’ve been amazing in picking up and starting over in a host of new places. This has been a particularly tough year for us, but I couldn’t imagine confronting it with anyone other than my wife Audrey who has always been the anchor holding our family together. To my daughters Amy, Zoe, Charlotte, and Iris: you inspire me with your energy, your passion, your courage, and your resilience. You ground me by reminding me, quite regularly, of my flaws and failings. I could not do this without you. Thanks also to my mother, Daintry, who has always been there whenever I’ve needed her – and never more so than this year.

In closing, it has been an honour and a privilege to command MARPAC and JTF(P). Thank you all for the hard work and outstanding support over these past 367 days.

– Vice Admiral Angus Topshee

Vice-Admiral Angus Topshee participates in the tree planting tradition at the Admiral’s House on May 16 with his family. Photo: S1 Kendric C.W. Grasby, MARPAC Imaging Services


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