A lucky draw reunited one Canadian Navy sailor with his partner for a special kiss on a B.C. dockyard Tuesday — and it made history, too.
A crowd gathered at CFB Esquimalt in Victoria, B.C. burst into cheers after Master Seaman Francis Legare walked off HMCS Winnipeg and toward his waiting partner, Corey Vautour.
Time seemed to stand still as Legare and Vautour stood in front of each other, waiting for their signal to share a “first kiss” — a navy tradition determined solely by a random draw.
“The fellow on board the ship is a sailor like every other sailor, doing his job,” Royal Canadian Navy spokesman Kris Phillips told The Huffington Post Canada. He added the fact that Legare is in a same-sex partnership is irrelevant to his role in the navy.
Data isn’t kept about the ceremonial kisses, but the one between Legare and Vautour is the first between two men, the navy confirmed. Two women shared a “first kiss” a few years earlier, said Phillips.
“What we are supporting here, what we’re standing behind is something that should be very representative of what you would expect to find anywhere in Canadian society,” he said.The “first kiss” is a time-honoured rite that bears emotional significance for navy couples separated by long deployments.
“... what we’re standing behind is something that should be very representative of what you would expect to find anywhere in Canadian society.”
Sailors buy raffle tickets — one for $2 or $5 for three — for a chance to be chosen as the first to walk off the ship and share a kiss with their spouse or partner. The money collected through the raffle is used for family-related events.
The HMCS Winnipeg's crew of 250 had been in the Caribbean and eastern Pacific for eight months.
Legare’s previous deployments have taken him to the Arabian Sea for maritime security and counter-terrorism operations. This latest voyage separated him from Vautour for exactly 255 days — he kept count.
“Now I’m back. I’m here. It’s just unreal, it feels great. I’m just speechless right now,” Legare told reporters on Tuesday.