Lt.-Gov. Lois Mitchell saluted Canada’s soldiers and their families as she officially opened a resource centre for them at Red Deer’s Cormack Armoury on Friday.
The event celebrated the expansion of the Red Deer branch of the Calgary Military Family Resource Centre, which is located at the armoury, with a part-time family outreach co-ordinator.
As part of the family resource centre’s Third Annual Operation Tea Cup, the Canadian Football League’s famous Grey Cup arrived with a military escort.
Family Resource Centre board chair Sarah Wuntke said Friday’s ribbon cutting followed a fundraising golf tournament in the morning, which raised money for the local branch.
The resource centre serves about 2,000 military families in southern Alberta and has branch offices in Lethbridge and Red Deer.
About 100 military families are located in central Alberta and will be served by the local office.
“We had a physical space here for about three years, but we didn’t have the resources to staff that space,” Wuntke said.
“So this is very exciting for us that we’re able to have a staff person here to be with the families whenever they need some support.”
Soldiers, veterans and family members often face unique challenges, including frequent separations, extended deployments and risks.
The centre offers help to military families, offering a variety of programs, including mental health support, social activities, workshops, training, family separation and reunification support, deployment support, children and youth programs and referral services.
“One of the largest programs we have here in Red Deer is a child and youth program,” she said.
“When a spouse or military family member is dealing with deployment, we’re able to provide planned and respite emergency child care for them, recognizing that they’re single parenting.”
Another role the centre plays is to connect the military and civilian communities.
“It’s bringing them together because they have common interests and shared values, and it’s really nice for them to know that they’re not alone.”
Friday’s event also saw a unique opportunity to have two of Lord Grey’s trophies on display side by side.
The Governor General’s Cup for general efficiency was awarded to field, coastal and siege artillery units that came out tops in skills at arms competitions.
Lord Grey was Canada’s Governor General from 1904 to 1911 and donated the Grey Cup to the CFL in 1909.
The field artillery version was last awarded in 1921 to Calgary’s 91st Field Battery and is now on display in the Cormack Armoury.
Mitchell, whose husband Douglas was a former CFL player and league commissioner from 1984 to 1988, said the ability to adapt is a hallmark of good football teams and the military and their families.
The resource centre plays an important role.
“We all need support to adapt,” she said.