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Canada Remembers Times
Veterans’ Week Special Edition

5-11 November 2023 - Page 2

It’s cool to remember!

The special Winterlude ice sculpture commemorated the 1998 Ice Storm.
Photo: Veterans Affairs Canada

There are many ways Canadians honour those who have served our country at home and around the world. During Winterlude 2023 in Ottawa, remembrance was very cool thanks to a special ice sculpture near the National War Memorial.

This year is the 25th anniversary of the 1998 Ice Storm. Days of freezing precipitation in January of that year knocked down thousands of power lines. Millions of people lost electricity in parts of Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick.

Winterlude is a major festival in our nation’s capital. The ice sculpture and educational panels there helped visitors learn how more than 15,000 Canadian Armed Forces members stepped up to help after the natural disaster. Codenamed Operation Recuperation, this military effort assisted people left in the dark and cold. Our service members cleared downed trees and helped feed thousands of people forced from their homes. They also helped restore the severely damaged electrical grid.

Canada’s Hundred Days

Wounded soldiers at a dressing station during the Battle of Amiens.
Photo: Library and Archives Canada 3397051

The First World War was an important chapter in Canada’s history. By the beginning of 1918, the conflict had been raging for almost three and a half years. Yet the front lines in France and Belgium had moved little since the opening months of the fighting. Both sides had repeatedly tried to launch major offensives to break the stalemate but failed. The Germans tried again in the spring of 1918 and advanced to within 70 kilometres of Paris before the Allies were able to stop them.

On August 8, 1918, the Allies hit back and made a major breakthrough during the Battle of Amiens. The Canadians were at the spearhead of this attack, which one enemy commander called “the black day of the German Army.” The Allies seized the momentum and continued the pressure. Canadian soldiers would lead the way in victory after victory in the late summer and fall. This remarkable period became known as “Canada’s Hundred Days.”

The brave Canadians fought through the Hindenburg Line, across the Canal du Nord and into Cambrai. They were in Mons, Belgium, on November 11, 1918—the day the war finally ended. But their success came at a high price. More than 6,800 Canadian soldiers were killed and approximately 39,000 were wounded during the last three months of the First World War.

Three cheers for the Invictus Athletes

Team Canada Invictus Games 2020.
Photo: Department of National Defence

The Invictus Games is a special sporting competition for ill and injured military members and Veterans. “Invictus” is a Latin word that means unconquered. This international event highlights the courage and sacrifice of those who have paid a high price for their service.

Harry, Duke of Sussex and a Veteran of the British Armed Forces, founded the Invictus Games in 2014. Participants from around the world take part in sports like archery, track and field, cycling, indoor rowing, powerlifting, sitting volleyball, swimming, wheelchair basketball, and wheelchair rugby.

For the competitors, the Invictus Games is a chance to represent their country, but in a different uniform. Canada will host the first hybrid summer-winter Invictus Games in British Columbia in 2025. Let’s cheer on Team Canada and all of the remarkable participants!

War memorials to remember

The Brooding Soldier on the St. Julien Canadian Memorial.
Photo: Veterans Affairs Canada

You may wonder, what is a memorial? Memorials are monuments or other special places that help us remember something important—like a person who died or a historic event such as a war.

One of our most striking monuments in Europe is the St. Julien Canadian Memorial. It is located in St. Julien, Belgium, where the 2nd Battle of Ypres took place in 1915. This was the site where Canadian troops withstood the first poison gas attack of the First World War. 2,000 of our soldiers died there.

Known as the “Brooding Soldier,” the memorial is almost 11 metres tall. It was designed by Saskatchewan architect and war Veteran Frederick Clemesha. At its top is a sculpture of a Canadian soldier with his head bowed and his hands folded on his rifle butt. The expression on his face is somber as he reflects on the fate of his comrades.

The St. Julien Canadian Memorial was dedicated 100 years ago on July 8, 1923. Why not visit a war memorial in your community that honours those who have served? Take a moment to remember.

Did you know?

Remembrance Day has its roots in the First World War, which came to an end 105 years ago this year. The fighting in that deadly conflict finally stopped in 1918 at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. That’s why we take two minutes of solemn silence at 11 a.m. every November 11. Lest we forget.

Maintiens le droit—At home and overseas

Two members of the North-West Mounted Police during the South African War.
Photo: Public domain

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) is one of Canada’s most famous symbols. The Mounties wear a distinctive dress uniform: Stetson hat, scarlet tunic, dark blue pants with a yellow stripe and knee-high brown boots. Originally known as the North-West Mounted Police, the force’s roots date back to 1873. Today, the RCMP is present from coast to coast to coast.

Did you know the RCMP’s history also includes international military service?

More than 250 North-West Mounted Police officers took part in the South African War. During the First World War, over 1,000 members served in Europe and even in Siberia. This proud tradition continued during the Second World War and the Korean War, especially with the Canadian Army’s Provost Corps (military police). More recently, RCMP members have taken part in international peace operations. Since 1989, they have deployed to more than 30 countries.

The RCMP motto is Maintiens le droit, which means “maintain the right.” The brave RCMP members who have served over the past 150 years have helped protect peace both here at home and around the world. We salute their impressive efforts.

The Canadian Armed Forces in Asia

Some places in Asia where Canadians have served since the 1950s.

Hundreds of thousands of Canadians have served around the world in the cause of peace and freedom. Many of their deployments have taken them far from home, including Asia.

Canada’s military personnel served in Asia in the First and Second World Wars, and again during the Korean War. In more recent decades, Canadian Armed Forces members have returned to the continent to carry out new efforts. One notable time was the Gulf War of 1990-1991, when more than 4,000 Canadians in uniform deployed to the Persian Gulf region. Our country’s military mission to Afghanistan from 2001 to 2014 saw over 40,000 of our troops sent there. 158 Canadians died in this effort.

Canadians have also taken part in several peacekeeping and humanitarian aid efforts in Asia. This includes missions to India, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Laos, Vietnam and East Timor. The country of Cambodia is one good example. More than one thousand Canadian peacekeepers served there during the course of four missions from the 1950s to 2000.

Canadians did many things to help the people of Cambodia. This included maintaining order, being military observers monitoring the terms of peace treaties, overseeing elections and the return of refugees, watching for smugglers, and removing deadly landmines. They also played key logistical roles, like arranging for accommodations for UN forces and transporting supplies and people around the country. Through it all, Canadian peacekeepers have made a difference.

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