National Defence and the Canadian Forces

4th Canadian Division

31 Canadian Brigade Group

Remarks By Lieutenant Colonel Dan Stepaniuk, Commanding Officer, The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry
At The TiCats Labour Day Classic Pre-Game Reception,
Monday, 6 September 2010

(Introduced by our Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel, Tim Hogarth, President and CEO of Pioneer Petroleums)

Thank-you Tim for the introduction, and thank-you to Bob and the Ti-Cats for hosting such a wonderful event on such a great day with members of The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry. I am the commanding officer of the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry or the RHLI, but amongst our friends we are called Rileys.

Tim has eloquently talked about our valuable relationships with you - the members of our community. Many of you are business leaders ? and all proud supporters of your Canadian Forces.

But as a citizen soldier, I would like to thank-you for your support at this time when our soldiers are experiencing an operational tempo such that few of us, except our oldest veterans, have seen in our lifetimes. Over the last several years, The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry has contributed dozens and dozens of soldiers to the misson in Afghanistan. Your soldiers, your fellow Hamiltonians have served in every capacity imaginable. They are clerks and gate guards, they have run convoys and resupply missions, they have worked with Afghan nationals as part of the difficult nation-building process, they have trained the Afghan army and the police force. And they have been in combat, experiencing the fear and tragedy that is often a part of such missions.

One of your Rileys received a Commander?s Commendation for his bravery and leadership when his convoy was attacked by a suicide bomber. Two more of your Rileys have been distinguished with Commendations from the Chief of the Defence Staff ? Canada?s top soldier - for their incredible work in Afghanistan: Corporal Casole-Gouveia for rendering first aid to numerous casualties following a violent attack; and Captain Nick Aragki for his bravery and work training the Afghan army. I think Corporal Casole-Gouveia is here today. Raise your hand. Ladies and gentlemen a true Canadian hero.

I should like to remind everyone that as we enjoy fine weather and the heat of an incredible football game, fifteen our our Rileys are currently deployed in Afghanistan, in a most unhospitable and dangerous environment. Still other Hamiltonians who are members of other military units are also deployed there.

And while the news remains fixed on Afghanistan, let us not forget other members of The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry who have also served on recent missions to places like Sierra Leone, Bosnia, the Sudan, and Haiti, and just this past June another two dozen of your Rileys were deployed right here at home in Support of the RCMP during the G8/G20 summit.

So your soldiers, your Rileys are hard at work in the service of Canada. But supporting the soldiers and everything that they do is often a challenge. And so we have created the 13th Regiment Foundation. The foundation exists to support all soldiers and preserve the heritage and history of Hamilton?s oldest infantry Regiment. After all, there will always be unforeseen events for our deployed soldiers and we are obligated to do everything within our power to support not only the soldiers deployed overseas, but also their families at home. Consider that one of our soldiers was in-theatre for only two weeks when he learned of the tragic passing of his father. Another soldier also recently lost a loved one. And in pleasant contrast, Corporal Phil Howie came home on leave to be blessed with a new baby girl and he will soon be returning for the end of his mission. So you see, as a Regimental family, we support our families no matter what and we support our community too.

Many of you have seen The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry precision drill team marching and firing muskets right here at Ivor Wynne Stadium on opening day. Others of you have seen our spectacular military band play at the Hamilton International Tattoo or in the Dundurn Castle concert in the park. We are Hamilton?s Regiment, we are your Regiment. For your continued and on-going support I would like to say a genuine thank-you.

I will finish my remarks by saying that the Ti Cats are an old institution like the RHLI and like the RHLI you are an incredible part of the fabric of the community and we are proud to be associated with such great people who understand our shared values, commitments, and and hard work. And like soldiers, the Ti-Cats dedicate themselves to bring home the win.

Before I go, I would like to share with you a military tradition. It is our custom to recognize our strongest supporters with tokens and badges. On this day I would like to present Commanding Officer?s Medallions to Bob Young, Scott Mitchell, Mark Bowden, and Matt Afinec.

Thank-you everyone and let?s have a great game!