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Campaign seeking award of highest military honour to local veteran receives Council support

A group of veterans is campaigning for Callander native Private Jess Larochelle's Star of Military Valour to be upgraded to Canada’s highest honour: the Canadian Victoria Cross
2021 11 30 Larochelle Victoria Cross
A campaign continues for Callander native Pvt. Jess Larochelle to receive the first Canadian Victoria Cross.

North Bay City Council members unanimously backed a motion supporting a campaign its organizers hope will result in a Callander military veteran becoming the first recipient of the Canadian Victoria Cross.

Private Jess Larochelle's actions in Afghanistan while serving as a member of the Canadian Armed Forces have been hailed as heroic. He is credited with saving the lives of many allies. Larochelle has been awarded the Star of Military Valour for his role in that battle in Afghanistan in 2006 in which he defended his unit's position while badly injured and under attack demonstrating "an unparalleled sense of duty and commitment to his fellow soldiers," according to the motion.

Now, a military veterans group is pushing for Larochelle's Star of Military Valour to be upgraded to Canada’s highest honour, the Canadian Victoria Cross.

Larochelle has been the subject of much media attention that has accompanied the campaign. He is living in the area and still suffers from the wounds and injuries — both mental and physical — incurred during his military career and, especially, on that fateful day.

Coun. Chris Mayne, who tabled the motion, reports Larochelle is "interested in this campaign and is doing a little bit better than he had been a few months ago. He's very much supportive and following with interest this campaign. If successful, this would be historic recognition with Canada's first Victoria Cross."

According to Legion magazine, among the 1,358 British Empire and Commonwealth soldiers, sailors and aircrew who earned the original Victoria Cross, there are 98 Canadians, the last of those awarded for actions at the end of World War II.

In 1993, Canada established its own Victoria Cross, as Australia had previously and New Zealand later did, in 1999. According to the Legion piece, while Australia has awarded four Victoria Cross medals and New Zealand one, Canada has not awarded any.

A request from local veteran Mike Harrison, on behalf of Valour in the Presence of the Enemy, seeking the endorsement of Council was granted, Tuesday, during its regular meeting. The e-petition on Larochelle's behalf has garnered over 10,000 signatures and is before the Minister of National Defence Anita Anand, who will receive a copy of this local motion along with Governor General Mary Simon, MP Anthony Rota, and Harrison and Valour in the Presence of the Enemy. 

Stu Campaigne

About the Author: Stu Campaigne

Stu Campaigne is a full-time news reporter for, focusing on local politics and sharing our community's compelling human interest stories.
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