Last week I was honoured to be a part of the HMCS Naval Excercise and tour HMCS Discovery on Deadman’s Island.  The invitation came from the Canadian Forces Liaison Council (CFLC).  Aside from the fact that it was on Valentines Day, I also got a great in depth look at the Canadian Navy and its operations in BC.  The CFLC, “Encourages civilian employers and educational institutions to grant Reservists time off on a voluntary basis, without penalty, to allow them to participate in their military activities, duties and training.”

The federal government owns Stanley Park, and therefore the land on which HMCS Discovery sits called Deadman’s Island.  The Island is steeped in British Columbian History as it used to be the tree burial grounds of the Sḵwxwú7mesh First Nations.  Today, Discovery is a Royal Canadian Navy Reserve Division and it provides security to the Vancouver Harbour.  

After a delicious lunch in the ‘Mess,’ sailors took out a group of approximately 25 employers from across Canada to the HMCS Nanaimo.  We had the chance to see the crew do a transfer of goods to the HMCS Brandon, conduct a man-over-board rescue mission, and complete many manoeuvres that showcased the agility of the vessel.

The day with the Canadian Navy ended with a RHIB ride around the Vancouver Harbour and dinner back at Discovery.  The experience gave me some great insight into the work of the Navy and allowed me to meet some of the men and women who are highly trained in securing Canadian waters.  What struck me as most exciting was the fully functioning working relationship between the Navy and law enforcement agencies such as the Vancouver Police.  The jobs of these different bodies be they military, police, or navy are all very different with particular capacities, and I appreciated the degree to which they all function cohesively.

Oftentimes when we think about the Canadian Forces, our vision is limited to a very small section of society.  In fact, the Canadian Forces include both men and women from a variety of cultural backgrounds.  The Commanding Officer of The HMCS Nanaimo, Michelle Tessier from Newfoundland, is a strong leader of her crew.

Tessier represented cooperation between men and women made possible by the presence of mutual respect to accomplish great work.  The Canadian Navy is full of this type of cooperation that I also saw in my friend, Alison Maclean’s film, Outside the Wire.

Cooperation is what makes the CF, and every other initiative successful. The next task is getting our politicians to do the same- and I can’t wait to say Mission accomplished on that.

Official CF Public Affairs:



  1. That was a great adventure and learning experience. It definitely increased your awareness and brought a new perspective on political relations within the structure of the Canadian Forces as well as Canada’s representation on the international stage. Also to note, the resources deployed in this exercise “Pacific Guardian” were greater than during the 2010 Olympics, involved hundreds of personnel as well as resources from the United States while simulating an APEC Conference at Canada Place.

    Video from the exercise can be found here:

    Official CF Public Affairs:

    You might find this article interesting from an international relations perspective on the use of naval assets:

  2. HI Alex,
    Thank you so much for reprsenting the CFLC Organization so well in your Article. I have had the pleasure of Interviewing many CFLC Employers, and they are making a great difference in the lives of the Canadian Forces Reservists.As a Canadian, I am honoured to support our Service People by Documenting their stories in Canada and Afghanistan.

    Best wishes,
    Alison MacLean
    Tomboy Digital Productions

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