Albert El Tassi has long been associated with the Canadian military.
The Transcona resident’s company, Peerless Garments, has been a clothing supplier to the military since 1950, working with the Canadian Army, Navy, and Air Force to provide warm and waterproof clothing.
El Tassi, 64, was named as the Honourary Lieutenant-Colonel of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles in a ceremony at Minto Armouries (969 St. Matthews Ave.) on Nov. 9. The unit also marked its 130th anniversary at the event.
"It’s a great honour to receive this appointment, to wear Canada on the uniform," El Tassi said. "They had a big parade, actually. It was a nice two hours.
"It was amazing."
El Tassi has served on the Rifles’ board for the past two years, and found out he would take over the honourary role when he received a letter from then-Minister of National Defence Peter MacKay in May. In the letter, MacKay wrote El Tassi has been appointed for a three-year term, though that appointment can later be extended.
While serving in the role, El Tassi plans to keep up his support of military personnel.
"I’m going to do exactly what I’ve been doing — I’ve always been involved with the military," El Tassi said. "I’m one of the first ones to start substantial donations to the Military Families Fund, (founded in 2007 by) General (Rick) Hillier. I’m always involved in functions to do with the military and air cadets."
El Tassi explained he will have the opportunity to attend various events as part of his duties, but noted attending events won’t be his main focus.
"You go to all functions to do with the military," said El Tassi, who has been invested in the Order of Manitoba and the Order of Canada. "The main thing is to not only to go to functions, but to see where you can help the military and the reservists."
In addition to serving the military, Peerless Garments also creates clothing for the oil industry and for police officers, including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
The appointment has been part of a busy time for El Tassi, who received an honourary degree from the University of Manitoba at its fall convocation in October, and was honoured as the Association of Fundraising Professionals Manitoba Chapter’s Outstanding Philanthropist on Nov. 15 after a nomination from the St. Boniface Hospital Foundation.