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New Westminster’s Honour House

A Place of Healing for Those who Protect our Lives

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Story by Joe Leary
Photos supplied by Honour House

A home away from home for Canadian Armed Forces Veterans, Emergency Services Personnel, First Responders and their families, Honour House is a refuge for the extended families and loved ones requiring vital medical care and treatment from serious, and often life-threatening, injuries incurred while serving in the line of duty.

Located in a serene, residential New Westminster neighbourhood, Honour House is a beautifully appointed, fully-renovated, retro-fit heritage home that is available free of charge to family members of those personnel who have to travel to Vancouver for treatment.

It contains eleven private bedrooms, each with its own ensuite bathroom, a shared kitchen, living room, media rooms and sun rooms, along with common spaces.


Completely modernized and fully wheelchair accessible, it provides much-needed comfort for those in a most difficult time of need. The concept of Honour House came from Al De Genova, a prominent name in civic initiatives.

One evening, my wife and I were watching ‘Peace Warrior,’ a documentary about Captain Trevor Greene,” he says of the origins of his idea. “While in Afghanistan, he took his helmet off —out of respect—while meeting elders, at which point a young insurgent planted an axe into his head, splitting it in half.

Amazingly, Capt. Green survived and was transported to Germany, where, once stabilized, he was operated on and transferred to Alberta for treatment at a very specialized clinic for brain injuries. It was at that time that they said he would not recover.

When he was transferred back to Vancouver there was nowhere for our men and women in uniform, and their families to stay while receiving treatment. I knew I had to do something about it.

Thus Honour House was born.

I was challenged by then Chief of Defence Staff General Rick Hillier to this safe space. He said to me—I remember it to this day— I hear you want to build Honour House. He then put the Challenge Coin in my hand and challenged me to build Honour House.

Challenge Coins are used by military and other organizations as a method to promote camaraderie while recognizing outstanding achievement. That challenge issued, the next came in the form of where to create this structure.

We needed a location that was supported by zoning and in a neighbourhood where people felt it wouldn’t impact too much activity, says De Genova. I knew we needed it to house ten or eleven units then as the need was already so great.

The journey took three location attempts, dealing with municipalities, the provincial government and the development community for assistance.

It was when we received the call from New Westminster Mayor Wayne Wright, to ‘look no further—we want this house in New Westminster.

As an adjunct of Honour House, Honour Ranch opened its doors in 2019, providing a place of tranquility which serves as a retreat off ering education and personal growth.

Honour Ranch is located 10 kilometres south of Ashcroft, BC, and contains a hundred acres of rolling hills overlooking the South Thompson River. Much like Honour House, the needs for Honour Ranch are greater than ever from the men and women in uniform dealing with operational and post-traumatic stress.

We have ten cottages and the main lodge but need more, and are in the early preparations of building our equine therapy program with four horses. The cost of this is expensive but that is just a number. The cost to the mental health and wellbeing of our men and women in uniform is what is really at stake here.

Honour House is an independent registered charity and receives no direct funding, relying instead on various fundraising eff orts and the generous support of volunteers who help to maintain the properties.

We are grateful for the community support we receive, both with volunteers’ time and donations, says De Genova. Our volunteers are the lifeline of Honour House and Honour Ranch, and we wouldn’t be where we are without them.

It’s a tireless endeavour for De Genova and all involved to make Honour House and Honour Ranch continue to assist the people who have provided the ultimate sacrifi ce.

It’s the least we can do to take care of our men and women in uniform who give unconditionally each and every day, he adds.

They do so much to look after us. It’s the least we can do to look after them.

Our volunteers are the lifeline of Honour House and Honour Ranch, and we wouldn’t be where we are without them.

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