West Coast Naval Reserve Divisions honoured in the Legislature

MLA Susie Chant, Minister Mitzi Dean, and HMCS Malahat and HMCS Discovery members pose for photos at a ceremony recognizing the Naval Reserve’s Centennial year on Apr. 26. Photo: Lt (N) Smith

MLA Susie Chant, Minister Mitzi Dean, and HMCS Malahat and HMCS Discovery members pose for photos at a ceremony recognizing the Naval Reserve’s Centennial year on Apr. 26. Photo: Lt (N) Smith.

SLt Adam Smith, HMCS Malahat Public Affairs Officer — Throughout the 2023 training year, the 24 Naval Reserve Divisions (NRDs) across Canada have been celebrating and honouring the 100th anniversary of the Naval Reserve.

On Apr. 26, it was time for British Columbia’s two NRDs to be recognized during this historic year. Members of HMCS Malahat, Victoria’s NRD, and HMCS Discovery, Vancouver’s NRD, were invited to the B.C. Legislature to receive recognition for the hard work put in by citizen-sailors across Canada over the last century.

During a ceremony in the Legislature’s Hall of Honour, Susie Chant, Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) for North Vancouver-Seymour, spoke from her personal experience as the former Coxswain of HMCS Discovery about the valuable contributions and sacrifices Naval Reservists regularly make for the good of their country.

“Over the years, reservists have deployed from these stone frigates on operations such as maritime security for the 2010 Olympics, responding to the pandemic, and supporting communities stricken by emergencies including B.C. wildfires and floods,” Chant said. “Further afield, they contribute to international security and Canadian Armed Forces operations in Central and South America, Asia, the Middle East, Europe and other areas.”

The Honourable Mitzi Dean, Minister of Children and Family Development and MLA for Esquimalt-Metchosin, also spoke of the role of Naval Reservists in the Second World War.

“Most of the nearly 100,000 sailors who made up the Royal Canadian Navy by 1945 were reserve members. These reservists, who started the war as pharmacists, labourers, miners, schoolteachers and lawyers, became the backbone of the Navy as officers and crew of Canadian ships contesting the longest continuous military campaign of the Second World War: the Battle of the Atlantic,” Minister Dean said. “From 1939 to 1945, their courage, skill, and sacrifice secured supply lines from the Americas to sustain the European war effort by protecting convoys from the threat of German U-Boat submarines.”

Commander (Cdr) Cameron Miller, HMCS Malahat’s Commanding Officer, also spoke briefly on what it takes to be a Naval Reservist today. Recalling the famous quote that a reservist must be ‘twice the citizen’, Cdr Miller emphasized the dedication required for someone to choose to put in a full day of work at their day job (or other full-time responsibilities) and then spend their evenings and weekends training in defence of Canada.

After the ceremony, sailors from both Malahat and Discovery were invited to the Gallery to witness Question Period. There, before the Legislative Assembly, MLA Chant proceeded to formally recognize the significance of the Centennial of Canada’s Naval Reserve and the contributions of both West Coast NRDs to that legacy:

“I rise today to recognize Canada’s Naval Reserve in their Centennial Year 2023 and to recognize in particular the contributions to this province made by the sailors of His Majesty’s Canadian Ships Discovery and Malahat.

“Today, the Naval Reserve is represented in 24 divisions, comprising more than 4,100 Canadians. We are fortunate in British Columbia to host two Naval Reserve divisions: HMCS Discovery, located on Deadman’s Island in Stanley Park and established in 1924, and HMCS Malahat, now situated at Shoal Point here in Victoria, established in 1947.

“Members of both Discovery and Malahat join us today in the Gallery. These proud British Columbians, past and present, have chosen to be citizen sailors who serve full or part-time in the Royal Canadian Navy while engaging in their civilian lives and careers. We recognize them for their bravery, thank them for their dedication over the last 100 years, and wish them and their shipmates well in their endeavours near and far in service to Canada. ”

“That was a great experience,” said Sailor Third Class Brian Haug, one of HMCS Malahat’s sailors in attendance. “It was a privilege to be publicly acknowledged in the Legislature and to spend time with MLA Chant. She was delightful and gave us a personalized tour where we met both the Speaker and Premiere Eby.”

HMCS Malahat and Discovery, and other NRDs across Canada, are continuing to host activities this year to commemorate the Centennial. Anyone wishing to participate in and support the upcoming events is encouraged to contact their local NRDs directly.

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