When Canadian Forces master corporal Adam Winnicki embarked on a different kind of peacemaking mission, he and his colleague, Corporal Tom Jun, turned to MLSE for help.
Thanks to their initiative there will be three significant improvements to a gathering place for soldiers at Toronto’s Moss Park Armoury.
Master Corporal Winnicki is in charge of the junior ranks mess, a licensed gathering place shared by the 300-person Queen’s Own Rifles, the oldest infantry regiment in Canada, as well as colleagues from brother units: the 48th Highlanders and the 7th Artillery.
The three are reserve units but a large number of reservists – the Rifles sent more than 80 soldiers to Afghanistan – have served in overseas missions. The room bears the names of foreign campaigns as well as soldiers from the three units killed in action.
The junior ranks mess is under renovation. The furniture is tired and the place needs a paint job. Much of the work is being carried out by the soldiers themselves who come in during their off-hours. As president and vice president of the mess, planning the overhaul fell to master corporal Winnicki and corporal Jun, two soldiers who each served in the Afghanistan mission.
“This is where we unwind from working long hours,” said master corporal Winnicki. “We have our own brotherhood and we need a place to be able to share a laugh and decompress. When we had vets coming back from Afghanistan, this is one of the places they came back to visit and talk.”
There is, the men agree, a natural rivalry between the Rifles, Highlanders and Gunners who mingle in the junior ranks mess so not only should a renovation beautify the room, it should unite its inhabitants.
The two hit upon the idea of three framed Maple Leafs jerseys, one for all three regiments.
“We are huge Leafs fans,” said master corporal Winnicki. “We are a Toronto regiment. The Leafs are our team so the Leafs recognizing the regiments was like a dream come true for us.”
MLSE Merchandise and Retail Director Jeff Budway said he was more than happy to help and dropped the framed jerseys off two days after Remembrance Day.
“It was a natural fit for us,” he said. “The men and women who serve us sacrifice a great deal and I don’t think they receive the honors they deserve. We were just glad to help.”
Master Corporal Winnicki said the jerseys will be a focal point of the room.
“They will be there for all to see,” he said, “and we’re going to resist the temptation to put the Queen’s Own Rifles jersey a little higher than the other two.”