So what is a Garrison Community Council?
In 2000, a group of concerned citizens from the London, Ontario area, got together to examine the effects of military force reduction and base closures on the local community. They discovered that, despite the longevity of the military presence within their communities, there was a lack of connection with and awareness of the overall contribution the military community made to their local area; and the important role the Canadian Forces played in representing Canadian values and interests at home and abroad. In addition to the obvious loss in payroll revenues and operating expenses, they noted the loss of significant intangibles from the community; all of which affected the leadership, expertise and dedication to community service exposed by the military community.
To bridge this disconnect, they brought together community leaders and professionals from various service groups, associations, educational institutions, government, emergency services, as well as interested individuals and the military community, to form Canada’s first Garrison Community Council. Although the motto of the GCC-London & Area is “Supporting Canada’s Military” the results of their efforts have proven to be for the mutual benefit of all participants and the extended community at large. For more on the Garrison Community Council of London and Area, please visit their website at gcclondon.ca
Breakout Educational Network was first introduced to the London & Area Garrison Community Council while conducting research for the documentary “Citizen Soldier”, and recognized the potential of this initiative for communities across Canada. With the support of the London organizers, Breakout developed a model and integrated the initiative into ‘The 7-Year Project ‘. The question still remained, “Was the concept transferable, from one community to another?”
In the late fall of 2007, Breakout accepted the invitation of the Royal Niagara Military Institute of Niagara, to present ‘The 7-Year Project’ to its membership. Support for the concept of a Garrison Community Council was unanimous and a committee was established to determine the feasibility of establishing a similar council within the Region of Niagara. The mandate was clear, to determine the interest within the region for a grass roots citizen based organization which would bring together the civilian and military communities in informative and mutually supportive activities.
Support for the concept grew and in November a decision was made to formalize, the Garrison Community Council of Niagara. With the Mayor of London and the Past President of the London & Area GCC in attendance to pass the torch, the GCC-Niagara was launched in May 2009, at a Community/Military Appreciation Day, held at Historic Buttler’s Barracks in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Breakout has continued to support this initiative by introducing the concept to communities across Canada and, where requested, conducted presentations and facilitated organizing efforts. The results of their efforts have shown that Canadians from coast to coast have great pride in the men and women who serve in the Canadian Armed Forces, regardless of their political views or opinions of current military operations. Another recurring theme was a lack of awareness on how to get involved and show support for the military community at large. Breakout through the efforts documentary expertise of Stornoway Productions has been using film as a means to document the progress, as it unfolds. Take time to view the video clips attached to this website and look for news articles following our progress.