Address Given by Vice-Admiral Bruce Donaldson, VCDS During Commissioning Parade, 17 May 2013

Speaking Notes for                      Notes d’allocution de

Vice-Admiral Bruce Donaldson

Vice Chief of the Defence Staff Vice-chef d’état-major de la Défense

Royal Military College of Canada

Graduation Parade

Kingston, ON

17 May 2013

Brigadier-General Tremblay,

Faculty and Staff of the Royal Military College,

Members of the RMC Foundation, the RMC Clubs of Canada and the Old Brigade,

Fellow General and Flag Officers,

Friends and Family,


And of course, Class of 2013,

Good morning.

C’est un grand plaisir pour moi que d’être ici au nom du chef d’état major de la Défense.

[It’s truly a pleasure to be here today on behalf of the Chief of the Defence Staff.]

La cérémonie de remise de diplômes constitue l’un de ces moments forts où le passé, le présent et l’avenir se rejoignent.

[Graduations are these unique moments when past, present and future coalesce into this one crowning event.]

C’est le moment de repasser le parcours qui vous a menés jusqu’ici et de penser aux gens qui vous ont aidés le long du chemin.

[They are a time to reflect on the journey that has brought you to this point, and the people that have helped you along the way.]

C’est une célébration de l’instant présent, l’aboutissement de tout le travail que vous avez réalisé pour décrocher votre nomination en tant qu’officiers.

[They are a celebration of the here and now, when the culmination of your work becomes manifest in your commissioning as officers.]

C’est également une fenêtre sur votre avenir.

[And they offer a window into your future.]

Car vous êtes les leaders militaires de demain.

[You are the military leaders of tomorrow.]

You exude such optimism…

…such energy and ingenuity…

…such potential for the future.

So I hope that over the course of today…

…in the midst of all the ceremony and celebration…

…you take some time to pause and reflect on this pivotal moment in which you now stand.

* * *

I would suggest that this is also a pretty important moment for the families that are here with you.

After 36 years in the Navy, I can tell you – and my wife and my children can tell you – that the military is much more than the men and women in uniform.

The military is a tight community of spouses, parents, children, friends and neighbours.

Together, they bear the burden of service.

There is no doubt that military life is a difficult one.

You knew that when your sons and daughters first signed up…

…and you’re probably even more acutely aware of that now as they prepare to go out on their first postings.

But let me assure you – caring hands extend across the military community, and they help ease that load.

Thank you for the role that you have already played in that support network.

I’m guessing there were many care packages, phone calls, and visits home that helped these cadets survive the last four years.

You are – and will remain – their bedrock.

Much, much more…

Avant de continuer, je tiens également à remercier…

[Before I go on, there is another “thank you” that must be said.]

… le brigadier général Tremblay ainsi que le corps enseignant et le personnel du Collège militaire royal.

[To Brigadier-General Tremblay, and the faculty and staff of the Royal Military College…]

Je crois parler au nom de tous les cadets présents ici aujourd’hui – et certainement au nom du chef d’état major de la Défense – en vous remerciant sincèrement pour votre dévouement professionnel à l’éducation de nos jeunes.

[…I think I speak on behalf of all of the cadets here today – and I know I speak for the CDS – when I express my sincere appreciation for your professional dedication to the education of our youth.]

Vous réalisez un travail incommensurable.

[The work you do here is invaluable.]

Il est tout simplement impossible de mettre un prix sur l’orientation que vous offrez à nos jeunes cadets au tout début de leur carrière militaire.

[We simply cannot put a price on the guiding hand that you offer to our young cadets as they begin their military careers.]

Vous savez tout aussi bien que moi qu’une force armée de premier ordre est composée avant tout de bonnes personnes.

[You and I both know that, above all else, a successful military is made of good people.]

Ainsi, la voie que prend notre force – vers la réussite ou l’échec – est déterminée à des endroits comme celui ci.

[So the trajectory of our Force – its future success or failure – is set in places like this.]

Les conseils et les connaissances que vous transmettez ici…

[The advice and the knowledge that you impart here…]

… germent dans l’esprit des jeunes officiers qui passent sous l’Arche…

[…lives on in the newly-minted officers that pass through that Arch…]

… et guident les Forces armées canadiennes de demain.

[…and serves as the compass for the Canadian Armed Forces of tomorrow.]

Donc, au nom de l’ensemble des Forces armées canadiennes, merci.

[So on behalf of the entire Canadian Armed Forces, thank you.]

* * *

Now, to the class of 2013,

I know you’ve had a remarkable four years here.

You’ve just come through one of the most demanding military education programs in the world.

And you’ve excelled across the board – in academics, military training, athletics and languages.

Whether it was the Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race…

…the US National Security Agency’s Cyber Defence Exercise…

…St. Anthony’s Triathlon in Florida…

…or the Annual Howard University National Model NATO Competition…

…the Officer and Naval Cadets of the Class of 2013 consistently rose above their competitors to stand as leaders in their field.

Now, no graduating class would be complete without its fair share of prank successes, as well!

Your accomplishments in this area show great cunning and creativity.

I’m sure General Lawson would be pleased to know that Brigadier-General Tremblay had his car nicely wrapped for him this Christmas.

And I’m glad that “Brucie” continues to get all the attention he deserves.

All jokes aside, the skills and knowledge that you have acquired in your time at RMC will serve you well in the years to come.

The memories you have made here will stay with you for a lifetime.

And the friendships will be enduring.

One day, you will be like the rest of us, talking fondly about “the good old days” with the friends that are standing next to you today.

The military is funny that way – although you may part ways in the short-term, you will continue to cross paths, time and time again.

So cherish the people around you, because they will remain an enduring thread throughout your life, wherever that winding road takes you.

Now, as you step off of these grounds and move onto the next phase of your career, I want to remind you that you have joined an institution that is truly unique.

The CDS talks a lot about maintaining the “profession of arms” in this country.

When he says that, he’s talking about those intangible elements that make us a military service that is highly respected around the world…

…that is trusted by Canadians from coast to coast to coast…

…and that the Government relies on, day in and day out, to respond to the call, whenever and wherever it may come.

Tant de facteurs façonnent notre profession, notamment notre vœu collectif de placer le service avant soi…

[There is so much that goes into making this profession what it is, not least of which is our collective vow to put service before self…]

… et notre ferme détermination à respecter les quatre valeurs principales que sont le devoir, la bravoure, l’intégrité et le courage.

[…and our steadfast commitment to uphold the four core values of duty, valour, integrity and courage.]

La force et le calibre des Forces armées canadiennes – et de son corps d’officiers – ont été développés au fil des générations.

[The strength and calibre of the Canadian Armed Forces – and its officer corps – is something that has been built over generations.]

Et le flambeau du leadership vous sera transmis afin que vous perpétuiez les bienfaits et la justice de nos actions.

[And the torch of leadership will be passed to you to uphold all that is right and good in what we do.]

C’est une responsabilité que vous ne devez pas prendre à la légère.

[That is a responsibility that you must not take lightly.]

Dans tout ce que vous entreprendrez, souvenez vous du précieux héritage qui a constitué votre point de départ et respectez le…

[As you go forward, you must remember and respect the proud legacy from which you come…]

… ne trahissez pas les idéaux qui nous guident…

[…and you must stay true to the ideals that guide us…]

… mais ne continuez pas pour autant à faire les choses de la même manière.

[…but you don’t need to keep doing things the same way.]

Les Forces armées canadiennes sont, et devraient toujours être, une institution dynamique.

[The Canadian Armed Forces has, and should always be, a dynamic institution.]

Nous nous adaptons constamment au pays que nous servons…

[We are constantly adapting to the country that we serve…]

… et aux obstacles qui se présentent.

[…and to the challenges that we face.]

Il vous faut donc avancer les yeux ouverts prêts à assimiler les leçons de demain.

[So you must go forward with your eyes open to the lessons that tomorrow brings.]

Indeed, don’t think for a moment that the learning phase of your career is over.

By the time you reach the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, you will probably have committed nearly a quarter of your career to formal education.

And of course, you will learn immeasurably through your daily experience.

In turn, you must take the time to impart your knowledge and experience on others…

…to offer advice to those around you…

…and to look for ways to improve the way we do things.

That is the only way that we will continue to be a living, breathing, vibrant organization that stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the best militaries in the world.

* * *

It is true that there is something exemplary about the Canadian military.

The Commander of HMCS Regina would tell you that every time one of his boarding parties gets ready to embark onto another vessel, he gives them the same instruction…

…“be Canadian.”

That comment probably means something to you already, as you stand on parade alongside the Canadian flag…

…but I can assure you that it will mean more and more to you through every step of your career…

…as you come to call various communities across Canada home…

…and as you deploy to far off places with the maple leaf proudly on your shoulder.

The Canadian Armed Forces form part of the very fabric of this nation…

…and it is this great nation that we represent in everything that we do.

* * *

So, to today’s Graduates, my final words to you will be the same: be Canadian.

Remember where you came from.

Remember who you are.

And remember who you serve.

Congratulations on your commissioning today.

I look forward to witnessing the great accomplishments that await you.