A former North Bay veteran has one more honour to add to his already impressive list of accomplishments.
Fern Taillefer, who serves as the first vice-president at Royal Canadian Legion Branch 147 in Barrie, was awarded the Veteran Ombudsman Award for Lifetime Achievement in a virtual ceremony on Wednesday, Nov. 30. The award recognizes and honours the dedication, hard work and selfless motivation of an individual or group's contribution to Canada's veterans and their families.
The 64-year-old Oro-Medonte resident, who also boasts the title of president of the Peacekeeping Association Central Ontario Chapter as well as veteran duty officer and parade marshall for the local legion, was one of only eight Canadians selected to receive the award.
“I was working on the poppy campaign at the legion and answered the phone and it was the veteran’s ombudsman herself. She said to me, ‘I bet you wonder why the ombudsman is calling you?’ ... And I said yes, the thought had crossed my mind,” he told BarrieToday. “She told me I had been nominated for the award.”
Taillefer said he thanked her for letting him know about the nomination, to which she promptly informed him that not only had he been nominated, he was in fact selected to be a recipient.
“I didn’t know what to say. I was not expecting that phone call at all. I didn’t even know my name had been submitted for that award,” he admitted. “It’s quite an impressive award and it’s a bit overwhelming. To be one of eight in all of Canada, that’s just (amazing). I was joking that I should go and buy a lottery ticket.”
Taillefer joined the Canadian Armed Forces when he was 18, and spent six years as a reservist before joining the regular forces as a member of the military police in 1980 in Petawawa, Ottawa and overseas in Europe — before landing at Canadian Forces Base Borden at the Military Police Academy in Angus.
During his career, Taillefer served in several peacekeeping missions in the Middle East in Egypt and Israel, did a tour as a bodyguard with NATO and protected individuals with threats to their lives — as well as members of Britian's Royal Family when they came through Europe.
Helping his fellow veterans is a passion for the North Bay native.
“It needs to be done and I love doing it. I really enjoy helping veterans and their families in need,” Taillefer said. “I don’t do it for the recognition. I do it because it’s the right thing, but when you do get recognized with a phone call like that it makes me feel so proud I have been able to help another veteran.
“It’s wonderful to have people out there that think I am doing a great job. I will keep on doing this, because it’s what I do and I love it."