The inaugural African Canadian Veterans Gala launch on November 10, was a vibrant evening of veteran supporters inside the Toronto Plaza Hotel. The keynote speech by military veteran and author Emille Bryant commenced with an army roll of  Army, Navy , Airforce, Coast Guard and United States Air Force.

Here is Emille’s Speech:

One of the things I’d like to speak about is the thing that makes me an asset to be a veteran, is the collection of skills and tools, accruing an incredible amount of skills to do amazing things.

Some of which include experience in various parts of the world from Japan, to Portugal, to Alabama and Texas.

These experiences in different places around the world, being an ambassador for my nation, being a warrior for my nation, I collected those skills as a cause of my career 20 years and more – where  I went to the Air Force Academy and can lovingly say I spent 24 years in the uniform.

One of things about this uniform being so powerful, are things we do with the experiences we collect – some of them are passive – we don’t even know we are collection them. We have no idea we are becoming someone great, an asset to our community, just like we were assets to our nation.

Black veterans bring a different level of understanding than the average. As was spoken earlier – one of the challenges we black veterans face is we may not necessarily be remembered. We may not necessarily be called up on.

In fact, if you are following the controversy in the NFL where a player decided to kneel during the national anthem and they say ‘you are offending veterans.’ “No! You’re not” and I know a whole lot of veterans that look like, me who will raise a fist and say ‘good job NFL players, hoorah’!”

Because they are supporting what we fought for.  The right to speak on their own behalf and address their government freely, without fear and tell their government in whatever form they feel free to say “you are not allowed to treat us this way!”

My life is a project, because I have the ability to take the skills and tools that I acquired over the years of service and experience that I had and apply them to whatever I choose to do.  I can choose to continue to fight outside the uniform in the community like I am doing right now – where I will support young children, where I was recently at Martin Luther King school in Washington DC. A school made up of people who look just like us.

Young kids, unruly kids – kids who need a whole to of attention. They need hands laid on – Can I be real? (audience laughter) They need to go down to Jamaica or one of these islands in the Caribbean and they’ll come out right. (applauds)

I was down there because my skills and experience allowed me to go in fourth and fifth grade classrooms and speak to them. As well speak at colleges and universities and I mentor young people who are graduates from college some of them PHd and MDs – I’ve been able to do that because over the course the twenty-four years in uniform, I acquired not just skills and experiences, but languages.

Skills I learnt, taught me how to praise people even when things went south because the right skills allow me to create the outcome I create – the outcome is up to me.  I am afraid to take the responsibility and authority for success and failure.

I created an online course called Awaken to Creativity for those who want to enroll can visit One of the lessons is on failure in chapter five of my book “Start With A Sparkle” called My Life is a Project.

Because many of the projects I attempted and failed, I am unafraid to fail.

I said what do I want to be when I leave this institution and I chose daily I will be what’s good and best about me and pack and store that which I do not want. I can choose what I emphasize to be and de-emphasize what I chose not to be.

Photo by: Gwyn Chapman