Prince Edward recognizes RCMP members during Sept. 13 Iqaluit visit
“It’s been a very special day"
It’s not often Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex and the third son of Queen Elizabeth II, flies to a small city in the Arctic to hand you an award — that’s why RCMP Supt. Steve McVarnock feels flattered, and even more so that he received two awards.
McVarnock, chief superintendent of the RCMP division in Nunavut, received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal and a silver clasp representing his 30 years of service to Canada at the Nunavut Legislative Assembly Sept. 13, where Prince Edward, seventh in line to the British throne, attended as part of an official visit to Canada.
“They’re very humbling. It’s obviously something I don’t wake up in the morning striving to get. It is nice to be recognized,” McVarnock said. “It’s been a very special day with his Royal Highness here, it’ll be hard to duplicate something like that again,” added McVarnock.
The event, featuring all the hallmarks of a royal visit, including bagpipes and formal red Mountie garb, drew prominent members of the community, including Nunavut Premier Eva Aariak and justice minister Daniel Shewchuck.
Five RCMP members received Jubilee medals, three received long service awards, and eight received the commanding officer’s commendation for their part in dealing with the aftermath of the Aug. 20, 2011 crash of First Air flight 6560 in Resolute Bay.
That incident dominated the speech of Prince Edward, who appeared to be moved by tales of the RCMP member’s actions in assisting the crash’s three survivors and later in planning and building communication lines.
“This was obviously a fairly major incident that occurred last year and obviously it’s a remarkable coincidence that a lot of you were in the area and were able to put in effect and exercise in which the plane crashed,” Prince Edward said.
“The fact that you had to turn that exercise [Operation Nanook] into a reality was quite remarkable and very lucky for those three passengers that, in fact, everyone was there at the time and the place were able to effect that rescue in such an effective way and so very efficiently,” he added.
“It’s all very well planning for an exercise, but it’s quite a different reality to face the real thing. And you rose to that challenge.”
Prince Edward also spoke to the families of those who received all the awards.
“To all families, you live with this every day. The fact that today we recognize just a few of them for what they do, please accept that medal is also recognizable of what you do on a daily basis on supporting them on a daily basis,” Prince Edward said.
In accepting the awards, McVarnock also thanked his colleagues, and his wife.
“I’m equally as proud of her. There’s nothing routine about the life of a police family. They are the unsung heroes of what we do, so every one of us is blessed to have a supportive family,” he said.
Those who were honoured Sept. 13 include:
Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medas:
C/Supt. Steve McVarnock
Sgt. Paul Solomon
Sgt. Kevin Lewis
Cpl. Beryl Lewis
Public Service Employee Bernice Rogers
Long Service Awards:
C/Supt. McVarnock - 30 years
Supt. Hilton Smee - 30 year
Sgt. Neill Pearson - 20 years
Insp. Gerry Kerr
S/Sgt. Steve Wright
S/Sgt. Garfield Elliott
Sgt. Paul Solomon
Sgt. Darrell Gill
Cpl. Denis Lambe
Cst. Danny Gourdeau
Cst. Dustin Grant