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Honorary degree citation - John de Chastelain

By: William Lynch, June 2012

Mr. Chancellor, it is my honour to present to you General Alfred John Gardyne Drummond de Chastelain, who served Canada with distinction as a professional soldier for more than 35 years and is widely recognized as a statesman for peace.

As Canada’s Chief of Defence Staff, he had direct responsibility for the command, control and administration of the Canadian Forces during a period of unprecedented growth in the number of international peacekeeping operations. A former Ambassador to the United States of America, he also made significant contributions to the successful development of the peace process in Northern Ireland.

John de Chastelain naît à Bucarest, capitale de la Roumanie, d’un père écossais, ingénieur pétrolier de son métier, et d’une mère écrivaine originaire des États-Unis. En 1955, après des études en Angleterre et en Écosse, il immigre au Canada; il a tout juste 18 ans. Il s’engage en janvier 1956 comme soldat dans les Calgary Highlanders. En 1960, il obtient son diplôme du Collège militaire royal du Canada. Affecté au deuxième bataillon de la Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, il entame alors une carrière qui le mènera à la tête des Forces canadiennes.

His regimental career included tours as a Company Commander in Germany and Cyprus, and as Commander of CFB Montreal. Promoted to Brigadier-General, he commanded the Royal Military College of Canada, and later the Fourth Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group in Germany, before serving as Deputy Commander of the Canadian army and then as the Assistant Deputy Minister of Defence responsible for personnel.

In 1989, he was promoted to the rank of General and appointed Chief of the Defence Staff. In January 1993, General de Chastelain transferred to the Supplementary Reserve and was appointed Canada’s 18th Ambassador to the United States. After a change of government in Ottawa, he returned from Washington in January 1994 and was re-appointed Chief of the Defence Staff.

En 1995, le général de Chastelain met son sens de la diplomatie en pratique afin de promouvoir la paix en Irlande du Nord. Du reste, de 1997 à 2011, il préside la Commission internationale indépendante sur la démilitarisation. Composé de trois représentants, le groupe réussit à désarmer les milices paramilitaires dans la région. Le travail de la Commission mène en outre à la signature de l’accord du Vendredi saint en 1998 – étape clé dans la résolution du conflit politique et religieux nord-irlandais.

Throughout his military and civilian life, General de Chastelain has devoted himself to supporting the advancement of democracy and peace. He has been a Senior Advisor to the University of Windsor’s Jerusalem Old City Initiative, a member of the Board of Directors of the United Nations Association in Canada, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Forum of Federations, which is an international governance organization founded by the Government of Canada and supported by nine partner governments.

General de Chastelain has been recognized in Canada and abroad for his public service and humanitarian work. He is an Officer of the Order of Canada, Commander of the Order of Military Merit, Companion of Honour (U.K.), Commander of the Order of St. John, Commander of the Legion of Merit (U.S.A.), and has the Medal of Merit and Honour of Greece. In 1992, he received the Vimy Award, which recognizes a Canadian who has made a significant and outstanding contribution to Canada’s defence and security and the preservation of its democratic values.

Mr. Chancellor, on behalf of Senate and the Board of Governors, it is my privilege and honour to present to you General John de Chastelain, so that you may confer upon him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

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