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

2019 Recipients and special guests

2019 Recipients and special guests

From left to right: Mr. Gregory A. Lick (Ombudsman), Dr. Andrea Hoffman, Chief Warrant Officer Martin Rousseau, Lieutenant-Commander Chris Knowlton, Brigadier-General Simon Trudeau (Canadian Forces Provost Marshal), Chief Petty Officer 1st Class Nancy Lachance, Chief Warrant Officer Robert Hains, Master Seaman River Leggat, Major-General Guy Chapdelaine (Chaplain General of the Canadian Armed Forces), Chief Warrant Officer David Ridley, Commodore Christopher Robinson (Director General Naval Strategic Readiness), Ms. Felicia Arsenault, and Commander Sheyla Dussault.


Message from the Ombudsman | 17 October 2019


On October 17, 2019, in Ottawa, I was very pleased to present the Liz Hoffman Memorial Commendation to six dedicated members of the Defence community.

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

There were many distinguished guests in attendance to celebrate the extraordinary dedication and inspiration of the recipients, including: Major-General Guy Chapdelaine, Chaplain General of the Canadian Armed Forces; Brigadier-General Simon Trudeau, Canadian Forces Provost Marshal; Mr. Gordon Venner, Associate Deputy Minister of National Defence; and Commodore Christopher Robinson, Director General Naval Strategic Readiness.


It is an honour to recognize this year’s recipients of the Liz Hoffman Memorial Commendation:


Ms. Felicia Arsenault

As Manager of Military Family Services for Canadian Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM), Ms. Felicia Arsenault has gone above and beyond to discover new resources for families in need.

Hired to establish a new family support program dedicated to CANSOFCOM, Ms. Arsenault was tasked with preserving, building upon, and improving relationships with local partnering organizations and divisions. This included creating partnerships for program delivery to serve families better.

Initially faced with opposition, Ms. Arsenault gained enough trust from peer networks that within three months the networks joined her team as volunteers and advisory committee members.

Within six months, Ms. Arsenault was able to create a warm, welcoming space for families, hire and inspire an outstanding team, and establish a full advisory committee including sub-committees focused on targeted program areas. This despite the many challenges she faced, such as facilities under renovation, no furniture, supplies, or resources.

Ms. Arsenault is now an expert in local resources for special needs families, including getting grants for families with special needs children, and creating a partnership to provide emergency child care for families, including those in remote communities. Ms. Felicia Arsenault truly emulates innovation and collaboration.


Master Seaman River Leggat

As a section supervisor in the Royal Canadian Navy, Master Seaman River Leggat is an ardent spokesperson for the education of military leaders on LGBTQ+ issues.

As a transitioning member herself, Master Seaman Leggat takes a personal approach to advocacy through her outstanding public speaking abilities and her exceptional knowledge of support systems within the Canadian Armed Forces.

During her Primary Leadership Qualification course, Master Seaman Leggat identified a deficiency in the understanding of support services for transitioning members among the junior leaders who surrounded her.

Feeling a strong sense of devotion to the LGBTQ+ community and the Canadian Armed Forces at large, Master Seaman Leggat bravely requested the opportunity to brief her peers on how military leaders can best support transitioning members.

Since then, Master Seaman Leggat has become a much sought-after guest speaker at professional development events and leadership courses in and around Joint Task Force Atlantic. She empowers her fellow leaders by giving them the tools and information they require to create a diverse and understanding work environment.

Master Seaman Leggat frequently gives her time as a support to transitioning members and is an unwavering and outspoken champion of respect and inclusivity. Her work fosters an environment in which all members of the Canadian Armed Forces feel safe to be true to themselves and others.


Chief Warrant Officer David Ridley

Chief Warrant Officer David Ridley routinely goes beyond the normal requirements and scope of his job with the Canadian Forces Military Police Academy, spending hours of his personal time addressing the needs of members of his unit.

To emphasize a safe and inclusive work environment, Chief Warrant Officer Ridley proposed and implemented the Canadian Forces Military Police Academy Diversity Ambassador Program – a program that fosters respect for others through positive and meaningful interactions.

Through his guidance and leadership the program has flourished, joining the Borden Defence Visible Minority Advisory Group, liaising with the Borden Pride Network, hosting Defence Team positive space ambassador training, and participating in social activities to promote diversity. Events included a film screening, a multicultural potluck, and a lunch-and-learn that encouraged thoughtful discourse on police response to persons with disabilities.

These initiatives, under the leadership of Chief Warrant Officer Ridley, have fostered a sense of responsibility and have created an environment of mutual trust, respect, honour, and dignity. They also ensure staff and students of the Canadian Forces Military Police Academy are well-prepared for the cultural change that must occur in the Canadian Armed Forces.


The Command Team of HMCS Carleton

As the Command team of HMCS Carleton, Commander Sheyla Dussault, Lieutenant-Commander Chris Knowlton, and Chief Petty Officer 1st Class Nancy Lachance go beyond the normal requirements of their jobs, identifying unfairness and bringing about positive and lasting change to the Canadian Armed Forces.

During the summer of 2018, the Command team of HMCS Carleton was made aware of a Reservist couple who were unable to attend logistics training with their newborn child. Their only option was to leave their newborn with a friend or neighbour during the six-week course. They were not allowed to stay on base with their child.

The Command team identified this as an issue of unfairness. They contacted the necessary authorities for approval so the couple could live off base with their newborn and attend the course. This was a difficult and novel situation as it was the first time a service couple was asking to go on course with their child.

The Command team presented innovative solutions to the chain of command who ultimately allowed the couple to complete their training. The team’s actions resolved an immediate issue and created a potential solution for other service couples in the future.

The Command team spent many weeks sending emails, and making phone calls during the weekends and late at night. They helped resolve the situation in a manner consistent with fairness, loyalty and integrity. 


I would like to once again thank these outstanding individuals.  Their commitment and dedication has made a significant contribution to promoting a culture of fairness in the Defence community.


Gregory A. Lick

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