The 8th Annual
Vancouver Military Dinner
An outpouring of generosity and understanding
On April 1st, 2023, the historic Vancouver Club came alive. Military uniforms, fine gowns, medals, and smiling faces filled the corridors and lounges.
The occasion? The 2023 Vancouver Military Dinner.
Sailors, soldiers, aviators, veterans, first responders, business leaders, and Canadians who care about those who serve gathered together once again, this time to celebrate the contributions of our 2SLGBTQIA+ veterans, learn about the evolution of Canadian military culture, and support The Rainbow Veterans of Canada.
Board members of the LGBT Purge Fund arrive at the 2023 Vancouver Military Dinner
The overarching mission of the Vancouver Military Dinner - common to all events - is to share, enjoy, and raise awareness of Canada's military and its traditions. In keeping with that mission, the evening was once again a unique mix of traditions from across the Canadian Armed Forces. Guests both in and out of uniform joined in, regaling the dining room with jokes, stories, and traditional banter.
Vancouver Military Dinner Co-President and Co-Founder Mark Adams toasts talented piper Andrew Hayes in traditional Scottish fashion prior to dinner.
While guests laughed, shared stories, and enjoyed the camaraderie of traditional military dining, all were mindful of the injustice we had assembled to learn more about. The LGBT Purge - which had forced 2SLGBTQIA+ Canadians from the military and government for nearly half-a-century - was at the center of both our evening and the presentations of our keynote speakers.
LGBT Purge Fund Executive-Director Michelle Douglas, a tireless advocate for 2SLGBTQIA+ veterans, spoke honestly about how her short but successful military career was abruptly ended. Despite a passion and a talent for service, she was treated as a threat, interrogated, and removed from the military simply for being a lesbian. Her story - which was repeated hundreds of times during the Purge - broke our hearts. The LGBT Purge was a dark period in Canadian history of which many of us were ignorant. No longer.
Military keynote speaker Lieutenant-General Jennie Carignan spoke equally honestly, touching on work done by the Canadian Armed Forces to strengthen military culture and create an environment where all Canadians can serve openly and safely. Her expression of regret and frank discussion of both past failings and modern successes of our military in this regard were appreciated by all, and we left the dining room convinced of the value and importance of work being done by the Chief, Professional Conduct & Culture.
Guests enjoy our 2023 Photo Wall - Provided by generous Gold Sponsor Brian Jessel BMW
By evening's end, the generosity of our guests resulted in nearly $50,000 raised for our Featured Organization, The Rainbow Veterans of Canada (RVC). RVC is on a difficult mission to seek out and provide assistance to the many 2SLGBTQIA+ veterans affected by the Purge, who have become difficult to locate as a result of their trauma. Every cent is critical to this task, and the mind-blowing generosity of Vancouver Military Dinner attendees will make a serious difference for some of our most vulnerable veterans.
To our guests, supporters, and friends, we struggle to put into words how much you are appreciated. Thank you for caring for those who commit to serving Canada, and for engaging with the time-honoured traditions that form the foundation of military life. Thank you for your open minds, and your willingness to learn about the sometimes-challenging topics that comprise Canada's military history and reality. And thank you for your generosity, which has and will continue to make a significant difference for our vulnerable veterans.
We’ll see you all in 2024!