The first UTPM (University Training Program (Men)) Officer Cadets graduated from RMC in 1978. When they were accepted in to the Program, they were assigned Military College Numbers prefaced by an M. Most of the UTPMs from that time will tell you that the initiative got off to a bit of a rocky start because notwithstanding their considerable previous military experience, the military staff initially wanted them to undertake the full RMC program. Fortunately for them, Dr Walter S. Avis, then the Dean of Arts, and someone who had served in the ranks during WWII, became their mentor and staunchest supporter. They were assigned to their own squadron in September 1977, the newly created Otter Squadron, named after General Sir William Otter, who was the first Chief of the General Staff of the Canadian militia to have been born in Canada. In recognition of the efforts by Dr Avis, an award was established by the UTPM graduating class of 1978, and named after him. As noted in the certificate below, the award “is made annually to the UTPM graduate who has contributed most to the positive development of the UTPM squadron”, based on a secret ballot of the UTPMs themselves.
The very first Honour Shield was presented to M0241 Tom W. Wall from the Class of 1979. Because the torrential downpour caused the premature ending of the 1979 graduation parade, the award was presented to Tom after the parade by the then Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Falls. The actual certificate was not prepared until a couple of years later. Following the death of Dr Avis in December 1979, Mrs Faith Avis agreed to co-sponsor the award and subsequently certificates like the one below were created. Tom’s was signed on April 10th, 1981 by the Cmdt at the time, coincidentally BGen Stewart, father of Al Stewart who was also from the Class of 79.
Mrs Faith Avis presented the award each year until her passing, at which point, her son and another Class of 79 classmate, Pete Avis assumed that responsibility. The plan name subsequently changed to UTPNCM - University Training Program (Non-Commissioned Members), and so the name of the award was obviously modified as well. Pete is seen here presenting the Class of 1978, Dr Water S Avis UTPNCM Honour Shield to M02098 OCdt Fyfe, an Intelligence Officer, on May 17, 2019.
NB The banner photo is from the Wikiwand/Paladins website