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17 Wing Sergeant Spence added to the Southern Chiefs’ Organization Veterans Wall of Honour

Sergeant Jessica Spence was, as she said, “surprised and honoured” when her name was added to the Southern Chiefs’ Organization Veterans Wall of Honour last year.

After all, Sgt Spence, who is 2IC of Operations at Food Services, is still a serving a member of the Canadian Armed Forces.

“A lot of past and present Manitoba (Indigenous) veterans are on this wall,” she said to The Voxair on May 21.

A quick search on Google turns up the Wall of Honour website.

“Southern Chiefs’ Organization recognizes First Nation Veterans from southern Manitoba for their valiant bravery, sacrifice, and achievements, says the online information.

“To honour them, SCO has created a Wall of Honour, featuring Veterans from our 34 Anishinaabe and Dakota First Nations. We thank these courageous and hard-working individuals for their service.”

The site has concise profiles on numerous First Nations veterans from as far back as the early 20th century.

Sgt Spence’s write up, which includes a photograph, notes that she has “over 15 years of service with the Canadian Armed Forces, beginning with her graduation from the Royal Canadian Navy Raven Program in 2006.

“Jessica then joined the regular force in 2009 as a Navy Culinary Technician. Jessica spent 13 years in the Navy, acquiring over 360 days at sea aboard many ships, including HMCS Vancouver, HMCS Ottawa, HMCS Winnipeg, and the HMCS Oriole.

“During her time aboard HMCS Vancouver, Jessica deployed overseas to the Mediterranean Sea and earned two NATO medals. Jessica has a total of three medals, including the Canadian Forces’ Decoration medal (CD).  As of January 2024, Jessica is in the Airforce, posted to 17 Wing in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She is the second in command of kitchen operation at 17 Wing Mission Support Squadron.”

Sgt Spence explained retired CAF member Justin Woodcock, who she met at an SCO sponsored workshop for veterans and current serving CAF personnel in Winnipeg last November, was responsible for putting her name on the Veterans Wall of Honour.

“He was in the army and transferred to the navy and got out after nine years,” Sgt Spence said.

“Then, he trained as a social worker. Then, he started working with the SCO.”

Mr. Woodcock was involved in setting up the Wall of Honour just over three years ago.

“He brought the planning and organization of the Indigenous veterans program that he started to run,” Sgt Spence said.

“He’s also touched bases with military members to start this program for Indigenous veterans. Justin had a power point presentation about the wall, and it would flash up new members. I noticed there weren’t any women represented. I mentioned to him that you had to have more females represented on the wall too.

“Justin said I was the prime candidate to be up on the wall. So, he asked me a question and did up a little article of myself. He asked me if I could be up there and asked for a photograph. I said ‘of course.’”

Although the wall is currently a digital wall, there are plans to make it into a wall banner at some point, Sgt Spence said.

“Now, I’m included on the wall,” she added.

“I feel pretty good that he asked me to be on the Wall of Honour. It’s an honour to be on the wall beside veterans who have done many years in the CAF.”

Sgt Spence also mentioned that she is representing the CAF at the 80th anniversary D Day commemorations in Normandy, France on June 6. She will be the CAF Eagle Staff carrier.

“I feel proud to have been selected for this task,” Sgt Spence said.

She will be writing an article for the Voxair about the experience in Normandy after her return.


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