The Guard of Honour, to me, is simple. I carry a coin in my pocket every day when I come to work that says PRIDE, INTEGRITY, and HONOUR. These words I stand behind 100% in everything I do with CSC, from being a Correctional Officer to a Programs Officer. The Guard of Honour is not an entitlement for officers, but a volunteer duty of selected staff members to represent the service by demonstrating respect and pride in a public way.
We do this by attending celebrations of life, funerals, and memorial services for CSC staff and other agencies around North America. Every time we travel internationally, we are received in the highest of regard. The camaraderie from other agencies really connects me with why we have all chosen law enforcement careers. Our ceremonial uniforms stand out amongst most other agencies as strong and proud. We also celebrate our pride for CSC by marching every year in the Canada Day parades. We march with strength and determination, often standing at attention for long periods during Fallen Officer Memorials and Remembrance Day events.
I remember the funeral of Blair Henry, a friend and colleague that graduated from CORE (correctional officer training) with me. This was one of the nicest and most respectful officers I knew. My wife was a paramedic then and had driven him once to the hospital during his battle with cancer. At his funeral, the last call was made and there wasn’t a dry eye in the building. After the service, the Guard of Honour stood resiliently at his graveside. It had snowed two feet, was cold, and now raining. We stood there without complaint for as long as it took for the family to say goodbye. The strength and adoration for a fellow officer was a powerful statement made by the Guard of Honour that day.
I have been an employee of CSC for 15 years. I started my career at Mission Institution in April 2000 as a Correctional Officer. Shortly after I joined with the service, I had a severe motorcycle accident that put me in the hospital for several months. The support from my family, friends, and coworkers was overwhelming. What really impressed me and drove me to return to work as soon as possible was the encouragement I received from my coworkers. I remember the phone calls and visits from the Warden and my fellow officers. Early on, I felt that I had made the right decision with my career choice. Once I returned to work, I inquired with Glen Wilson, the Regional Commander, about joining the Guard of Honour. I was approved and accepted in 2002.
Personally, I was touched by these selected Guard of Honour members when my son died soon after birth. They gathered around my wife’s bedside and stood in silence, one by one offering a gentle “sorry for your loss” or a head nod. They came in full ceremonial uniform, bringing the hospital to attention that something special had been lost that day. My son’s name was Chase. For that moment, I am eternally grateful.
I have been capturing the Ceremonial Unit of the Pacific Region for 13 years through my photography. I continue to march and stand beside these men and women because it’s my way of saying thank you. It’s my way of finding and maintaining the PRIDE, INTEGRITY, and HONOUR that often feels lost in politics, personalities, and the difficulties of a challenging working environment. I may have changed classifications of what I do daily for CSC, but I maintain my integrity and personal standards for CSC because of the consistency the Guard of Honour upholds. I am HONOURED to be a part of something that stands publicly for professionalism, and that is anchored in a commitment towards integrity.