Peter Chirico has spent nearly his entire life entrenched in the North Bay. A three-term councillor, former Deputy Mayor and current President of the North Bay Chamber of Commerce, Chirico can now add Honorary Colonel of the 22 Wing to his resume.
Chirico said he was surprised when he got the news of his recognition.
“I was nervous. There’s a lot of good people who I’m following who have done tremendous jobs both quietly in the background and out front to raise awareness of the military and the connection we have between the city of North Bay, our district, and our military history,” said Chirico, adding that the appointment process has been stalled for nearly three years due to a change in government and the COVID-19 pandemic.
An Honorary Colonel is a civilian member of the local community who is appointed by the Canadian Forces for a term of three years. The Honorary Colonel is responsible for strengthening the relationship between the military and the local community in which it serves.
Col. Mark Lachapelle, 22 Wing and Canadian Air Defence Sector Commander, says that Chirico is the right man for the job.
“Not only has he put service before self as an elected city official and, later, as President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the North Bay and District Chamber of Commerce, he is a proud member of North Bay. He advocates for the city at the provincial level while creating and nurturing his family right here in North Bay. We look forward to working with Honorary Colonel Chirico in the coming years, strengthening the bonds between the City of North Bay and the members of 22 Wing,” Col. Lachapelle said in a statement.
Chirico knows that his new recognition is one of importance in a community like North Bay.
“When you look at something like Armed Forces Day, we in North Bay have probably one of the largest armed forces bases in Canada. These people have built this – the military and the Honorary Colonels… It’s a real good way for me – who has never spent any time in the military – to say thank you,” Chirico beamed.
George Burton, President of Canadore College is the outgoing Honorary Colonel for the 22 Wing. Chirico says that he’s spoken with Burton about what the role entails.
“I’ve talked to George for three years on this. I think I’ve asked every question, wise or otherwise. ‘Service above self’ I think George said to me once. That’s what the military here in North Bay needs. Anything that happens in our community, whether it be a charitable event, Relay for Life… any events that need volunteers, the military is there,” said Chirico.
Chirico now joins Corina Moore, 21 Aerospace Control and Warning Squadron, and Jake Lacourse, 51 Aerospace Control and Warning (Operational Training) Squadron as Honorary Colonels at the 22 Wing.
The 22 Wing has been a Canadian Forces Base in North Bay since 1951. Its main role is to identify any incoming airspace threats coming to North America. The North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) has been operating from the base for over 50 years, also bringing in members of the United States Military.