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Tour of Honour supporting military, first responders kicks off in Chilliwack

The tour will raise awareness in places across B.C. and the Yukon for Honour House and Honour Ranch
The Tour of Honour Humvee is rolling into communities across B.C. and as far north as the Yukon Territory, raising awareness and money for Honour House and Honour Ranch. (Eric J. Welsh/ The Progress)

Who helps the people who help you? Many police officers, firefighters, military members, paramedics and others suffer in silence, feeling isolated as they deal with physical or mental injuries. But Col. Al De Genova says they’re not alone, and he’s visiting dozens of communities across B.C. with that message.

The Tour of Honour launched Monday (April 3) with the Honour Tour’s eye-catching Humvee and trailer pulling into the parking lot of Chilliwack Fire Hall No. 1. Between now and mid-June, De Genova and eight volunteer drivers are hitting the road with a focus on raising awareness and money for two places that can be a lifeline for people who are struggling, Honour House and Honour Ranch.

“The suicide rate is extremely high right now for all our first responders, and I’m hoping to let them know they’re not left on their own, that there is help and Honour House and Honour Ranch are there for them unconditionally, at no cost, as long as they want to stay,” said De Genova, who is an honourary colonel in the Canadian Armed Forces’ 15th Field Artillery Regiment.

Honour House is 11 years old. Based in Queen’s Park in New Westminster, it offers a temporary home for serving and retired military personnel, police officers, firefighters, paramedics and other law enforcement agencies (and their immediate families) while they get medical treatment in the Metro Vancouver area. De Genova said Honour House saves visitors the expense of hotels and food and gives them a place to while away the hours between appointments.

It is a home away from home.

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“There are long days and it can be a struggle,” De Genova said. “At Honour House they have their own rooms and bathrooms. They have to come down and cook their own meals and there are other families to interact with, but if they need separation they have that as well with the way the house has been designed.

“And we have hit close to 13,000 night-stays since we opened our doors.”

Honour Ranch in Ashcroft is in its first year, providing a serene retreat for those suffering from job-related trauma, including the devastating effects of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“One size does not fit all and that’s why Honour Ranch offers everything from equine (therapy) to foraging to one-on-one therapy to round table (sessions),” De Genova noted. “The ranch is designed to make sure that they get the treatment they deserve in the form they feel is best. We’re running some great programs and we’ll save hundreds and hundreds of lives from our first responders and Canadian Forces men and women.”

A smaller version of the Tour of Honour was held in 2016 with the same mission, to raise awareness about Honour House and Honour Ranch, but De Genova feels there’s still thousands of people who don’t know about them.

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“I bet you more than half of these firefighters here in Chilliwack, the younger ones and even the more seasoned ones, wouldn’t be aware of what we really do,” he said. “Hence the Humvee and trailer. It brings people in and it’s a comfortable way to talk to them and hand them some reading materials. The more people we reach the more we’ll be able to help.”

De Genova plans to bring the message as far and wide as he can, including as far north as Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory.

“It’s going to be intense, but it’s also very important,” said De Genova, who said each of the eight drivers will be behind the wheel for a week. “I think the highlight for me will be Whitehorse. When the Canadian Rangers way up north are struggling physically and mentally, it’s a long way to get down here. But I want to go all the way up to them to let them know we are here for them, because they are here every day for us.”

The charitable arm of the Chilliwack Fire Department kicked off the Tour of Honours fundraising efforts with a $500 donation.

For more information or to donate, phone 778-397-4399, email or visit

See the full list of Honour Tour stops below.


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April 4 - Princeton-Osoyoos

April 5 - Oliver-Penticton

April 6 - Kelowna

April 7 - Vernon

April 8-9 - Revelstoke

April 10 - Golden

April 11-12 - Cranbrook/Kimberley

April 13 - Nelson

April 14 - Castlegar

April 15 - Trail

April 16 - Grand Forks-Greenwood

April 18-19 - Kamloops

April 20 - Merritt-Lillooet

April 21 - Pemberton-Whistler

April 22 - Squamish

April 24-25 - Victoria-Esquimalt

April 26 - Duncan-Nanaimo

April 27 - Comox-Courtenay

April 28 - Campbell River

April 29 - Powell River-Sechelt-Gibsons

May 2 - Williams Lake

May 3 - Quesnel

May 4 - Prince George

May 5 - Vanderhoof

May 6 - Smithers

May 7 - Hazelton

May 8 - Terrace

May 9 - Prince Rupert

May 11 - Stewart

May 13 - Dease Lake

May 16-18 - Whitehorse

May 20 - Fort Nelson

May 21-22 - Fort St. John

May 23 - Dawson Creek

May 24 - Mackenzie

May 25-27 - Prince George

May 29 - Valemount

May 30 - Clearwater-Barriere

May 31 - Cache Creek-Ashcroft

June 2-10 - Lower Mainland

Eric Welsh

About the Author: Eric Welsh

I joined the Chilliwack Progress in 2007, originally hired as a sports reporter.
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