by Rachelle Cruz, ABS-CBN News
TORONTO — It’s a dream come true for Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph Nonato.
He has risen through the ranks and takes command of the Royal Regiment of Canada, an infantry unit part of Canada’s Army reserve. Prince Charles is the honorary Colonel-in-Chief of the regiment.
Nonato was joined by his wife Sheila, and their two young children, during the Royal Regiment of Canada’s change of command parade and ceremony.
“To be part of the Canadian army, we’re part of this diverse cultural military because it’s the reflection of the Canadian society. However as a Filipino, I feel a bit of a responsibility, so it’s a big honor,” Nonato said.
His parents immigrated to Canada in the 1970s.
While in high school, Nonato, the eldest of the four children, joined the cadet program and made it to the Royal Military college in Kingston.
In his service with the Canadian Armed Forces, Nonato was deployed to Afghanistan from 2008 to 2009, and to South Sudan in 2012 as part of Canada’s contribution to the UN peacekeeping mission.
Nonato says it was his family who inspired him to join the military.
“My father was naval ROTC and my uncle was Air Force ROTC, and my cousins PMT and so, listening to their stories when I was a kid, it has always interested me in the military.”
But for Nonato, the concept of family extends beyond his blood relatives to the service men and women who will be under his watch for the next three years.
“He’s very dedicated and devoted to whatever he is doing. The soldiers there, they’re his family, like we are his family,” said Sheila Dabu Nonato. “And he always gives 110 percent to everything that he does.”
Proud of his Filipino-Canadian roots, Nonato remains connected to the Filipino community by giving lectures in leadership at Angeles University Foundation in Pampanga, and participating in medical missions and social service to some local villages.