Second Annual Unsung Heroes Gala – Sometime in 2021

PROPOSED 2021 UNSUNG HEROES GALA

Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) recreate the historic cavalry charge at Moreuil Wood 30 March 2018, 100 years after Lt Gordon Flowerdew led the real charge at Moreuil Wood France.

PROPOSED 2021 UNSUNG HEROES GALA

AIM

1. The aim of this brief is to propose plans for the second Annual Unsung Heroes Gala. Our hero for 2021 is Lt Gordon Flowerdew. The objective of an annual fundraising event celebrating the unsung heroes of British Columbia is threefold. First and foremost is fundraising for Cascadia Command of the Order of St George projects and programs to help Veterans. Second is to raise awareness of the rich and colourful history of British Columbians who serve or have served in in the Canadian Armed Forces, Regular, Reserve or Cadet Instructor Cadre, as well as First Responders. Third is to raise awareness of the important but often-overlooked role that our military has played in our history.

2. 2021 marks the second year we will hold a fund raising and newsworthy Vancouver gala to celebrate an unsung hero from the history of British Columbia. We plan to celebrate the colourful life and selfless accomplishments of Lt Gordon Flowerdew, a man who left his home in Walachin BC to serve with Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) in the First World War. He led the cavalry charge at the Battle of Moreuil Wood but succumbed to his wounds shortly thereafter. He was awarded the Victoria Cross, posthumously, for his courage.

3. The proposed format of the gala event is to be a military style formal dinner held at one of the several armouries in the Greater Vancouver Area. This would help us to raise awareness of the military in the community. Preference is to collaborate with local restaurants to prepare the dinner at cost with volunteer chefs working with Reservists or Cadets interested in a culinary career. Area restaurants are often on the lookout for recruiting opportunities and Tap and Barrel has already expressed interest in the 2021 gala. This keeps gala costs down and greatly enhances fundraising. Each dinner would be preceded by a short presentation on the individual being celebrated which in this case would be Lt Flowerdew. The dinner would be followed by a uniformed guest speaker, preferably representative of the honouree for 2021.

BACKGROUND

4. Historically, the Canadian public has had limited awareness of or interest in the Canadian military unless or until there is a domestic or international crisis that calls for the involvement of our soldiers, sailors and air men and women. This has resulted in a corresponding ebb and flow of government support for the military that has made it difficult, between crisis and conflicts, to maintain a credible, flexible, combat capable, rapid response, deployable military in accordance with Department of National Defence policy and mission statements. It has also made it difficult for those who have served, often at great cost, to receive the support and recognition they so badly need and deserve. This is particularly the case for those who suffered often devastating physical and mental injury during the course of their service.

5. Cascadia Command is the western Commandery of the Order of St George and is committed to the support of the personnel and families of members of the Canadian and American Armed Forces, First Responders, and related ancillary government services, in particular those demonstrating need after stressful duties performed by members at home or abroad.

6. The Order of St. George, the Canadian Priory, is a contemporary North American chivalrous organization inspired by the Statutes which defined the secular Fraternal Society founded by King Károly Róbert of Hungary in 1326. The Order’s Foundation contributes funding in support of our wounded or fallen military personnel and their immediate families through such agencies as the Homes for Heroes Foundation, Military Families Fund and the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre (Veterans & Community). The Order also offers its support to programs of Royal Canadian Sea, Army and Air Cadet Corps, and the Junior Rangers, as well as to other charitable organizations.

DISCUSSION

7. The proposed annual fund-raising and newsworthy Vancouver event would require a hosting facility with a commercial capacity kitchen and dinner seating for at least 150. The alternative is a catered dinner, but this would drive costs up considerably and is not our first choice. It’s understood that using the kitchen in a government, specifically DND, facility has some limitations, but given that the volunteer chefs would be “training” the participating Reservists or Cadets, the limitations might be overcome.

8. The presentation before the dinner could include a video, accompanied by any available memorabilia related to either the unsung hero being celebrated, or artifacts related to their accomplishments.

9. The Dining In Mess Dinner would provide a media worthy event with military attendees resplendent in their respective mess kits. The Tap and Barrel chain of restaurants has already expressed interest in catering the 2021 dinner at cost with volunteer chefs. They have recently decided that they need to do more community outreach and charitable work so this is a good fit. Their chefs are also open to inviting Reservists, Veterans or Cadets interested in a culinary career to volunteer as cooks assistants as part of their recruiting effort to find suitable apprentices.

10. Rough cost estimates per person for the dinner if provided at cost by a local area restaurant like Tap and Barrel run about $20 a plate for a 5-course meal, including desert. A catered dinner would cost more in the order of $85 a plate. Regional vintners and breweries could be approached to stock a cash bar at cost. If we use one of the area armouries, however, we could use their cash bar with proceeds from the bar going to the hosting armoury. The hosting armoury would be paid their standard fee for the use of their facilities. Event tickets could be priced at around $150 to $175 each with net proceeds as mentioned, going to a relevant charity Attendance by keynote speakers and select guests could also be subsidized either from ticket sales or by corporate sponsorship.

RECOMMENDATION

11. A celebration of Lt Gordon Flowerdew at the 2021 gala is an excellent unsung hero for our gala event. His story is one of a colourful and dashing regional character who provided extraordinary and selfless service to Canada. Celebrating his life and sacrifice would be well received in Vancouver. During the 2010 Winter Olympics, when there were 4500 men and women in uniform quietly deployed here and at Whistler to support the security efforts of the RCMP, Vancouverites were always eager for an opportunity to meet and thank a member of the Canadian Armed Forces.

12. Many of the Reserve Units in the Greater Vancouver Area have facilities that are well suited to hosting an annual event of this nature.

13. It should be possible to find enough volunteers from Cascadia Command, and our partners in this year’s gala to plan and  successfully run an event of this nature.

Prepared February 2020 by: Dame Melanie Graham DStG, Lt (N) (ret’d) for Cascadia Command

Questions regarding this proposed event may be directed to:

Chevalier Allan Plett, Deputy Commanding Officer, Cascadia Command operations@cascadiacommand-ostg.org

Dame Melanie Graham, Communications Officer, Cascadia Command communications@cascadiacommand-ostg.org