Anniversaries are a special time. They are milestones that provide us with an opportunity to pause and reflect, to respect and celebrate the past, to understand and appreciate the present, and to anticipate and prepare for the future. The Vanier Institute’s 50th anniversary year is now coming to an end. There has been much to celebrate, and there is much to look forward to.

This year’s fall Board meeting was a time to reflect on our achievements and build our future as we begin another 50 years of understanding families in Canada. The meeting was held at the Hôtel-Musée Premières Nations in the Huron-Wendat Nation at Wendake, Quebec. It opened with a smudging ceremony led by Elder Diane Andicha (Yändicha’) Picard, who gave each Board member a unique, personalized message to guide our planning.

Mealtime is important for families of all kinds, a symbolic and a material means of coming together, where relationships are formed and strengthened, thoughts and ideas are exchanged, bodies and minds are nourished, and values and opinions are shaped. As such, they are an important part of Vanier Board gatherings. This year, we attended a Mess Dinner held at the Citadelle of Québec – a fitting venue for our Board to pause and reflect, being the site of a recently unveiled statue of Vanier Institute founder General The Right Honourable Georges P. Vanier, and where he and Madame Pauline Vanier were laid to rest. Their environment was a source of reverence and inspiration for us all.

Thank you, Major Nicolas Bertrand, for hosting this dinner and to all who attended and contributed to the conversations that made our own “family dinner” lively, entertaining and thought-provoking.

We were given an extensive tour of the Musée Royal 22e Régiment, where we learned about the history of the Royal 22e Régiment as well the Citadelle of Québec.

A special thanks to Major General (ret.) Terry Liston, former commander of the Royal 22e Régiment – the first battalion of French-Canadian soldiers, of which General Vanier was a founding member generations ago. Major General Liston welcomed the Board and helped to plan this historic celebration.

We left Québec City proud of the work we have done and the legacy that the Vaniers left for us. Our 50th anniversary is a milestone that acts as a tribute to our history and a source of inspiration for the future. Now, it is time for us to envision the next 50 years. We invite everyone with an interest in families and family life to join us as we engage in conversation to understand families in Canada.