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Très bien: College president awarded French honour


President Peter Devlin received France's highest honour last month for his effort in promoting strong relations between the French and Canadian armies.

Francis Siebert | Interrobang | News | March 2nd, 2015

Fanshawe College President Peter Devlin was awarded France’s highest decoration on February 19 for his efforts to promote relations between the French and Canadian Armies while he was Commander of the Canadian Army.

Devlin was invested into France’s National Order of the Legion of Honour in the degree of officier by the French Vice Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Gratien Maire, at the Embassy of France in Ottawa. The event was hosted by the French Ambassador to Canada, Nicolas Chapuis.

“I am tremendously honoured to receive this award from France,” Devlin said. “The French army is an important ally to Canada, and it was rewarding to have strong, courageous and professional French and Canadian soldiers working together.”

Devlin accepted a French officer into the Canadian Army headquarters in Ottawa in 2012, which he said was a great addition to the team.

He also provided Canadian soldiers to French exercises, such as Exercise Croix du Sud. Exercise Croix du Sud, French for South Cross Exercise, is a military exercise held every two years in New Caledonia, a special collectivity of France near Australia. The goal of the exercise is to train and conduct humanitarian aid, disaster response and non-combatant evacuation operations.

Canada has participated in Exercise Croix du Sud in larger numbers every time, Devlin said.

“It heightened Canadian soldiers’ awareness of the complexities of different types of operations as well as different approaches, different procedures at different armies,” he said.

Devlin served in the Canadian Forces for over 35 years, having been deployed on operational missions to Cyprus, the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq.

France’s National Order of the Legion of Honour was established in 1802 by French Emperor Napoléon Bonaparte. It is divided into five degrees: chevalier, officier, commandeur, grand officier and grand-croix.

“France is a country that is important to Canada,” Devlin said. “We have good economic ties, we have good cultural ties, we share a language and we share values with them.”

Devlin also revealed he could speak French – “not well.”

“Last week, I punished them by having them listen to my French.”
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