Ombudsman Commendation – Recipients
Lifetime Contribution: Lieutenant-General (Ret’d) Louis Cuppens, C.M.M., C.D.
Lieutenant General Louis Cuppens was born in Nijmegen in the Netherlands during World War II. Canada so influenced his family that they immigrated to Canada in 1950, and he chose to spend his adult life in the service of Canada as a member of the Canadian Armed Forces. After 10 years in the Army, he transferred to the Air Force and rose steadily through its ranks until his retirement in 1998, after 38 years of service, as Deputy-Commander-in-Chief of the North American Aerospace Defense Command. He is past president of the New Brunswick Aerospace and Defence Association, past chair of the Defence Committee of Dominion Command of the Royal Canadian Legion, past National President of the Last Post Fund, and has served in various executive positions in the Corps of Commissionaires, as well as serving as the National President of the United Services Institutes. Mr. Cuppens' lifetime work and dedication to help Veterans has greatly contributed to the betterment of Canada's Veterans.
Individual: Sergeant (Ret’d) Daniel Lafontaine
Sergeant Daniel Lafontaine was born in 1964, and grew up in Chelmsford outside Sudbury in Northern Ontario. His father’s mother was Algonquin (Anishnabeg), born in the Baskatong region of Québec; his mother’s grandmother was Innu (Montagnais) from the area of Les Escoumins, Québec; and he is a francophone first-generation Métis in Québec. He is proud to be a Canadian Veteran, and even prouder to be an Indigenous Veteran. In 1983 he enlisted in the Canadian Armed Forces and was quickly promoted to the ranks of Corporal, Master Corporal, and then Sergeant. He was deployed on peacekeeping missions with both the United Nations and NATO in Cyprus, Haiti, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia. After he left the Forces in 2003, he found that his biggest challenge in retirement was adapting to civilian life while dealing with PTSD. Each year on National Peacekeeper’s Day (August 9th), he is proud to bring together more than 1,000 Veterans for a Sunset Ceremony to honour Canadian Peacekeepers.
National Organization: Paws Fur Thought
Paws Fur Thought is an initiative that fundraises and matches service dogs with Veterans and First Responders in need. Inspired by his service dog, Thai, Medric Cousineau, a decorated RCAF Captain (Ret’d) who was awarded the Star of Courage, co-founded Paws Fur Thought with Jocelyn Cousineau in 2013. The Paws Team has a variety of team members from different backgrounds and specialties. Since its launch, the organization has successfully paired over more than 90 Veterans and First Responders with service dogs.
Local Organization: New Chelsea Society
The New Chelsea Society was founded in 1952 to provide safe, affordable housing for World War II Veterans and their families in the Vancouver area. Today, it is the third largest non-profit housing provider in the BC lower mainland with 1,432 affordable housing units for Veterans, seniors, families and persons with disabilities. For over a decade, the Society has also operated “Winch House” a supportive housing unit for Veterans of the Canadian Military and First Responders, providing them with a safe and comfortable home while undergoing medical treatment or rehabilitation in the Vancouver area. Over the years, Winch House has provided accommodation to dozens of Veterans.
The Royal Canadian Legion, Ontario Command – Leave the Streets Behind program
Launched in 2010, The Royal Canadian Legion, Ontario Command’s Leave the Streets Behind program provides outreach, emergency shelter, transition housing, financial assistance and access to addiction and counselling services to homeless and at-risk Veterans across Ontario. To date, the program has helped over 500 Veterans get off the street and assisted in providing permanent housing to over 250 homeless Veterans. With the success of this program, The Royal Canadian Legion launched the national Leave the Streets Behind program in 2012 to assist homeless and at-risk Veterans across the country. The importance of this program as a building block to assist homeless Veterans across Ontario and then extended nationally cannot be understated. Through its exceptional leadership, initiative and dedication Ontario Command has been instrumental in establishing a national initiative linking all levels of government and community resources to ensure that homeless Veterans get access to the resources they need.
Allan De Genova
Honour House President, Allan De Genova, was inspired by the story of a Canadian Soldier, Captain Trevor Greene, who was very seriously injured as he served with the Canadian Military in Afghanistan in 2006. Captain Trevor Greene’s family struggled to find a way to be by his side as he recovered overseas and also when he arrived back in Canada. Allan recognized a need to provide more support for those who serve and the vision of a “home away from home” for military and emergency services families was born. Allan was handed a challenge coin by the then-Canadian Chief of Defence, General Rick Hillier which inspired him to power forward relentlessly with his vision until Honour House was opened in New Westminster in November 2010. Set on a quiet tree-lined street, Honour House is a beautiful, fully-accessible 10 bedroom and ensuite home with a large shared kitchen that provides a temporary home for Canadian Armed Forces members, Veterans, Emergency Services Personnel and their families while they travel to receive medical care and treatment in the Metro Vancouver area. Just over four years later, Honour House has provided thousands of nights of free accommodation for our men and women in uniform and their families as they’ve gone through some of the toughest times in their lives.
Lorne McCartney (posthumous)
After 25 years of service with the Canadian Armed Forces, Lorne McCartney continued to serve by taking on the role of Dominion Secretary-Treasurer with the Army, Navy & Air Force Veterans in Canada (ANAVETS) for nearly ten years. Guided by his motto “What is best for the Veteran and their family?” Lorne dedicated much of his time to advocating for Veterans and their families as a participant of the Veterans Affairs Canada Stakeholder meetings, the New Veterans Charter Advisory Group, the Gerontological Advisory Council and the Special Needs Advisory Group. He was also on the Advisory Councils of the Canadian War Museum, the Perley Rideau Veterans Health Centre, and the Veterans Ombudsman. In 2011, as the NATO Veterans of Canada Association was forming, Lorne acted as mentor and advisor on issues surrounding the New Veterans Charter, Long-Term Care and funeral and burial benefits. Although Lorne passed away in 2016, he is remembered by his colleagues, friends and Veterans for his dedication, in-depth knowledge, and unwavering commitment to helping Veterans and their families get the support they deserve.
Jenifer Migneault is a dedicated and devoted caregiver of a Veteran suffering from PTSD, as well as an advocate on behalf of all caregivers. Her efforts have led to a national discussion on support to military families, especially those caring for ill and injured Veterans. Her resolve and tenacity led her to knock on every door available resulting in Veterans Affairs Canada launching new programs and benefits to help caregivers of ill and injured Veterans. Jenifer shares her story publicly and openly to help others struggling with the issues she has faced. She organizes meetings to help Veterans and their families, posts videos to YouTube and Facebook and blogs regularly to ensure families know they have someone to lean on. She has become a trusted source of support and encouragement for other caregivers, and continues to contribute to an important national conversation on their treatment. As a result of her tireless efforts, she has recently been appointed to the Minister’s Advisory Group on Families.
Roméo Dallaire is a retired Canadian Senator, a retired Canadian Army Lieutenant-General, and a devoted advocate for human rights. He currently dedicates his time to increasing public awareness on Veterans' issues and their quality of life, and has spoken out for improvements to the New Veterans Charter and other issues facing Veterans and their families. His openness about Operational Stress Injuries has helped educate the public about mental illness suffered by serving members, Veterans and their families, and has inspired many to seek help. His work and dedication have been recognized by many as inspirational and life-changing. View clips of an interview conducted with this recipient follwoing the Award Ceremony.
With 38 years of dedicated military service, Captain (Ret'd) Ray Kokkonen is a founding member of the Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association and has been its president for the past six years. In this role and behind the scenes, Mr. Kokkonen educates Veterans and helps them access the support they need. He also tirelessly advocates for improvements to the New Veterans Charter so that current and future Veterans and their families are properly supported. As one of the founding members of the Assembly of Veterans Organizations, Ray has recently been working towards harmony within the Veterans' community in order to improve conditions for all. View clips of an interview conducted with this recipient follwoing the Award Ceremony.
Thomas Lewis (Tim) Hoban
Thomas Lewis (Tim) Hoban retired from the RCMP after 24 years as Senior NCO/Detachment Commander. For his contribution, he received both the Queen Elizabeth II Golden & Diamond Jubilee medals. Tim has been an active member of the community and member of the Lions Club International for 45 years as well as past President and Governor of the RCMP Veterans’ Association. Over the years, he showed particular interest in helping troubled youths and Aboriginal Veterans. Recently, he’s been advocating for Homeless Veterans, to ensure those who proudly served maintain an acceptable standard of living.
Dr. Heather MacKinnon
Dr. Heather MacKinnon had a distinguished military career. She served as a medical officer for 12 years and retired at the rank of Lieutenant Commander. Today, Dr. MacKinnon operates a medical practice in Halifax focused on serving military and RCMP Veterans. She is a passionate advocate for Veterans. She tirelessly presses the federal and provincial governments for improvement in healthcare programs to better serve the needs of Veterans and their families. She is highly regarded by her colleagues as well as her current and former patients.
Jerome Burke is a dedicated ambassador for the Army, Navy & Air Force Veterans in Canada (ANAVETS). He served in various executive roles with ANAVETS over the past ten years and currently serves as Vice President of the Dominion Command and as their National Advocacy Committee Chairman. Jerome spearheaded major fundraising events for his ANAVETS’ unit and many other organizations – raising tens of thousands of dollars for his community. Jerome is also member of the Royal Canadian Legion. With his extraordinary leadership, Jerome demonstrates the positive impact Veterans have on their communities. Jerome resides in New Waterford, Nova Scotia.
William (Bill) Gidley
William (Bill) Gidley has contributed more than 10 years to the RCMP Veterans’ Association, including serving as Executive Director. In his recent role as National Advocate for the RCMP Veterans’ Association, Bill remained committed to promoting the fair treatment of Veterans and their families in accordance with the Veterans Bill of Rights. A noteworthy leader, Bill has been at the forefront of helping RCMP Veterans obtain benefits from Veterans Affairs Canada. Bill resides in Orleans, Ontario.
John D. Gillis
John D. Gillis has dedicated more than 50 years of tireless service to the Royal Canadian Legion, many years to the Korean Veterans Association and has held executive roles with the Army, Navy & Air Force Veterans in Canada (ANAVETS). His distinguished leadership and superlative work with the Deer Lodge Centre in Winnipeg exemplifies the deep concern he has for the welfare of the most vulnerable Veterans. John continues to be a committed, active member of the Deer Lodge Foundation Board and its Joint Veterans Committee. John resides in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
David Munro, currently serving as Zone Commander, South/Mid Vancouver Island, for the Royal Canadian Legion, has devoted more than 20 years to serving Veterans, including as President of the Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association. He actively participated in the development of the New Veterans Charter, and played a significant role in the crafting of the Seventh Book of Remembrance. With remarkable leadership, David was instrumental in the development of low income, quality housing for Veterans and seniors in his community, and in initiating the Cockrell House project for homeless Veterans, in Colwood. David resides in Chemainus, British Columbia.
Dennis Manuge has demonstrated outstanding courage by standing up for Veterans as the main claimant of a class action lawsuit against the Crown for the so-called SISIP claw-back as well as being an advocate and leader in Veterans community. If his claim is successful, it will significantly enhance the financial security and lives of many Veterans.
As the critic for his party on Veterans' issues, Peter Stoffer has amassed detailed knowledge of the challenges facing Veterans. Thanks to his tireless advocacy, he has helped bring Veterans' issues to the forefront and centre of Canadian discourse, championing their cause while holding Ottawa accountable for its responsibility to Veterans.
Encouraged by many Veterans, John Labelle formed a committee aimed at terminating all reduction formulas that are being applied to military and RCMP pension plans after seeking and receiving support for a private member's bill from Peter Stoffer, MP Sackville-Eastern Shore.
After a distinguished career in the Canadian Forces, Mr. Leduc became extremely active in Veterans' issues. He has regularly provided advice to the Department on how to meet the emerging needs of CF Veterans and families and has become one of the foremost experts in the history, laws, orders and authorities associated with Veterans' programs.