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LGen Al Meinzinger, commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), and CWO Denis Gaudreault, RCAF command chief warrant officer, recently visited personnel deployed with the Air Task Force-Romania, part of Operation Reassurance, at Mihail Kogalniceanu Airbase.
The RCAF’s HCol Loreena McKennitt joined the RCAF Command Team on their visit. While there, on Dec. 14, 2019, Meinzinger presented her with her Canadian Forces Decoration (CD), representing 12 years of service — with a good record of conduct — as an honorary colonel.
McKennitt, an internationally known singer-songwriter, was appointed as honorary colonel of the Royal Canadian Air Force in September 2014. Before that, she served as honorary colonel of 435 Transport and Rescue Squadron, located in Winnipeg, Man., from August 2006 to October 2013. She reached her 12 years of service in June 2019.
“I accepted this role in 2006,” she said in a speech to her fellow honorary colonels during her tenure as honorary colonel of 435 Squadron. “Largely inspired by the sentiment that democracy does not thrive as a spectator sport; I believe that if we care about the democracy in which we live, we should all do our part to preserve it. By being an honorary colonel, one can become, even in small ways, a conduit of reflection and communication between the civilian population, our [Canadian Armed Forces] personnel and the political forces that give them direction.”
She also emphasized that it “has been very important for me to get to know our men and women in uniform, where they come from, why they joined and how they undertake their responsibilities. It has been equally important to understand how their career path has affected their ability to have and maintain a family, children husbands, wives and parents who, behind the scenes, stoically support them every day of the year. I have learned a great deal.
“In all the squadrons, units and wings we represent as honorary colonels, we are deeply privileged to have some of the finest men and women in this country serving in the CAF. Around, behind and beside them are some of the most remarkable families you will find anywhere.”
About HCol McKennitt
Born in Morden, Man., McKennitt moved to Stratford, Ont., in 1981, where she initially worked with Canada’s renowned Stratford Festival. In a recording career spanning more than two decades, McKennitt’s ‘eclectic Celtic’ music has received critical acclaim world-wide, and gold, platinum and multi-platinum sales of more than 14 million albums and two Junos Awards.
Less well known is the fact that McKennitt is a highly successful businesswoman who has created an independent record label, Quinlan Road, with celebrated international success. She founded the Three Oaks Foundation, a charity that provides financial support to cultural, environmental, historical and social groups. In 1998, she started the Cook-Rees Memorial Fund for Water Search and Safety in support of water safety education, as well as search, rescue and recovery operations. In 2000, McKennitt purchased a recently-closed public school in Stratford and transformed it into the Falstaff Family Centre. Responding to concerns identified by the local community, the centre focuses on the needs of families and children in Perth County, Ont., where she resides.
McKennitt is a member of the Order of Canada and the Order of Manitoba. In 2002 and 2012 she was the recipient of Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden and Diamond Jubilee medals and in 2013 she was appointed to the rank of Knight of the National Order of Arts and Letters by the Republic of France.
McKennitt holds honorary degrees from the University of Manitoba (Winnipeg), Sir Wilfrid Laurier University (Waterloo), Queen’s University (Kingston) and George Brown College (Toronto).