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  • Captain Jennifer MacCosham

Breaking Ground of the 17 Wing ‘Unity Space’

Breaking ground of the 17 Wing ‘Unity Space’ took place on July 28, 2022. The ground-breaking ceremony symbolizes the beginning of the creation of a space that visibly represents diversity, inclusion, and the multifaceted nature of 17 Wing. The development of this space is rooted in a community vision. Since there are five diversity groups here at 17 Wing, we foresee the space being crafted into a pentagon with each section developed and designed by members of each DAAG. Every section may have their own flagpole that could be flown 365 days a year. This is significant, because when you drive onto 17 Wing, these representative flags will be visible on a daily basis.

17 Wing Commander, Col David Proteau (left), and 17 Wing Chief, CWO Claude Faucher, “break ground” during the Unity Garden Groundbreaking Ceremony, dedicated to the Defense Advisory Group (DAG) communities, on July 28th, 2022, Winnipeg, Mb. Photo by: MCpl Darryl Hepner, 17 Wing Public Affairs, Winnipeg, Mb

Col Proteau expressed that, “It’s a space that’s designed for recognition and contemplation so that people can come in and sit down, as well as have a conversation or enter into a moment of reflection within a space that feels welcoming to them.”

Col Proteau relayed the importance of ensuring the space is large enough so that celebrations can take place. The space will serve as a place where we can recognize people who have done outstanding work; make special announcements here; and present awards to deserving members.

Col Proteau expressed the importance of wanting to leave a place better than you’ve found it. He stated, “During my tenure as Wing Commander, I wanted to have something that represented the two years that we were all here within these COVID difficult days and during the times where our cultural framework has been drastically changing. I believe the Unity Space is a perfect representation of the positive cultural changes that are taking place at 17 Wing; it also encapsulates what these two years have meant to me. When I come back in 15 years, Unity Space will be visible and the deeper emotional attachment I’ll have to this Wing will be, in large part, represented by this.”

During this ground breaking ceremony, Col Proteau had the honour of presenting Sgt (Ret’d) Devin Beaudry (Walking Grey Wolf) a 17 Wing Commendation for his exemplary contribution as Indigenous Lodge Keeper since the inception of the 17 Wing Sweat Lodge. Col Proteau states, “I have such a deep level of respect and admiration for Walking Grey Wolf and his role as Lodge Keeper. I really resonate with his belief system and I’m exceedingly grateful for all of the growth and positive change he’s carried out as Lodge Keeper.”

17 Wing Commander, Col David Proteau presents a Wing Commanders Commendation to Sgt (Ret’d) Devin Beaudry (Walking Grey Wolf) during the Unity Garden Groundbreaking Ceremony, dedicated to the Defense Advisory Group (DAG) communities, on July 28th, 2022, Winnipeg, Mb. Photo by: MCpl Darryl Hepner, 17 Wing Public Affairs, Winnipeg, Mb

According to Walking Grey Wolf, receiving the Commendation was an incredible surprise; he wasn’t expecting any platitudes, as he does this work because it’s a gift that the Creator gave him. So, to be recognized for all of the effort given, filled him with a deep level of gratitude and honour. Col Proteau and Walking Grey Wolf worked together when Col Proteau was the Commanding Officer of CFSSAT, so it was extremely special to receive the award from him.

Walking Grey Wolf has been interested in spirituality since he was a young child and, once he discovered that he was Metis, his spirituality truly blossomed. Walking Grey Wolf expressed, “I experienced my first sweat lodge ceremony in 2008, and my world completely flipped. The heat, the sweat, and the ceremony itself resonated with me so deeply. My role as Lodge Keeper has allowed me to become a much more peaceful person; I often reflect upon the seven sacred teachings and feel it’s an honour to provide these teachings as a gift to others. It’s an honour to be given the opportunity to educate others with the Indigenous culture, and I will continue to impart these teachings until I can’t do it anymore.”

Walking Grey Wolf reflects upon looking forward to seeing how the Lodge will continue to grow. He states, “As things progress and become easier to achieve and, as society continues to change towards Indigenous spirituality, the Lodge will grow with the expansion of views.”

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