Royal Canadian Air Force Holiday Message

News Article / December 20, 2021

2021 has been a true testament to our RCAF motto – Per ardua ad astrathrough adversity to the stars. The RCAF team is superb at reaching for the stars and accomplishing our mission. In the face of adversity, we must come together and continue to embrace change and strengthen bonds.

That’s a pretty serious opening for a holiday message, but it has been another challenging year for all of us. We persisted throughout the pandemic amidst a high operational tempo, and many of you were confronted with exceptional challenges when relocating during the posting season. In true RCAF spirit, you continued to support each other through these adversities, even volunteering to help fellow RCAF members pack and move to their new locations. It has also been a year of reflection where we have had to face the realization that not everyone in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) has been treated with the dignity, respect and equality they deserve. Also, trust in your leadership in some instances has eroded, and we acknowledge that earning back that trust will take time. We are committed to making meaningful change and becoming a more inclusive organization. We must if we are going to continue to be successful.

Despite all of this adversity, we’ve witnessed some incredible achievements in 2021. So let’s take the opportunity to highlight some of these accomplishments and to remind us of the vital role you play. Here at home, you responded to 12 provincial requests for assistance during natural emergencies. You transported CAF members and supplies. You moved people out of harm’s way in the midst of catastrophic wildfires, mudslides and floods when they needed your help the most. You supported Canadians during an unprecedented global pandemic. You delivered vaccines across Canada and used our new bio-containment capability to safely transport infectious patients to critical care services. Day in and day out, you did everything in your power to save lives by conducting over 800 search and rescue missions this year while providing 24/7 coverage.

You contributed to the defence of Canada and North America. You worked and trained alongside our allies to support global peace and security, and in doing so earned an incredible amount of respect. You have been directly, or indirectly, responsible for the deployment of RCAF members on expeditionary missions, providing vital sustainment to our operations. You worked with NATO allies to protect sovereign airspace, flew missions to prevent illegal trafficking, and provided Air Detachment support to naval missions. You contributed to the largest military air evacuation in history and assisted Afghan nationals and Canadians desperate to leave Afghanistan. You enforced United Nations Sanctions in the Asian-Pacific region.

Then there is the work you did that went beyond all borders, even beyond our planet, into outer space. Our infrastructure in space is critical in many profound ways. As a globally engaged air force we rely on space to get our job done, just like the majority of Canadians who rely on satellites for many of their day-to-day services. Many of you within our space formation contributed to improving our space efforts to great effect.

You have re-started our school-houses and introduced new professional development initiatives. You formulated strategies and plans to prepare for a dire need to grow our air force back to the numbers that will ensure we can meet our future operational and readiness requirements. You have continued to innovate and adapt to change, and we have drawn from this to create our very first RCAF Innovation Charter. This Charter provides a cohesive and consistent approach to innovation that supports your incredible talents and professionalism.

You have also started important preparations for our 100th birthday in 2024 and unveiled our new logo and motto for the RCAF Centennial. In a few years, we’ll be celebrating our incredible history and inspiring future generations to become invested in the Air Force of tomorrow.

Despite the adversity we have faced, we have accomplished a lot together this year. So please take some time over the holiday break to reflect on this as you spend well deserved time and much needed rest with family and friends. As we step off together and enter 2022, please know that your Command Team is incredibly proud of you and what we have accomplished. We are also very appreciative of the support provided by your families who are a critical part of the extended RCAF team.

May 2022 bring all of you many more opportunities to reach for the stars. Please read on for a holiday greeting from our RCAF Honourary Colonel Loreena McKennitt.

Sending you and your families our warmest holiday greetings,

Lieutenant-General Al Meinzinger
Commander Royal Canadian Air Force             

Chief Warrant Officer John Hall   
Royal Canadian Air Force Command Chief Warrant Officer


To the RCAF family,

It is with feelings of warmth, admiration and gratitude that, as the Royal Canadian Air Force Honorary Colonel, I send this end-of-year message.

I am honoured to be continuing in my role and note that it has been 15 years since my connection with the RCAF began in 2006 when I was appointed as Honorary Colonel of 435 Transport and Rescue Squadron, based in Winnipeg. I learned quickly – often as a seat-belted spectator in a Hercules Aircraft – that the aviators of the RCAF demonstrate unparalleled dedication and great skill.

Each day you perform important tasks: providing security, mission support, essential air transport, search and rescue, to name just a few; that bring a sense of safety and confidence to our vast and varied country. I trust you feel the deep appreciation of Canadians when you answer the call. Your recent efforts aiding those devastated by the recent floods in British Columbia is but one small example of the exceptional work which you do day-to-day, and one that I share as often as I can. And, of course, the RCAF does great work all over the world. I was able to appreciate that greater reach ‘up-close’ just a few weeks ago when I had the privilege to visit our fine Air Task Force in Romania, where the RCAF continues to play a valued role in air policing over Eastern Europe.

As we all know, your dedication to task has been challenged by the unexpected worldwide pandemic. Though things have improved, we approach a second holiday season under a cloud of COVID uncertainty. What we are certain of is that – despite its complexity and challenges - this is a time to be thankful and, if we can, to be together with loved ones. Over these past years. I have seen that the professionalism, excellence and teamwork shown in your work also shines in the eyes of your families. They bring each of you such important engagement and endless support. We salute them – especially in a season in which family matters so much.

To each and every one of you who make up the greater family of the Royal Canadian Air Force, I send heartfelt “best wishes” for a wonderful holiday season and good health and happiness in the year ahead.

Loreena McKennitt 
RCAF Honorary Colonel 

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