A Thank You to Canada's Veterans
In Canada, between November 5 and 11, we honour Veterans Week – a time for us to remember the sacrifice of the brave men and women who have served Canada past and present.
During this time, we have an opportunity to reflect on our veterans and pay tribute to them by wearing a poppy, supporting the Royal Canadian Legion, learning more about their contributions and finding a way to remember them.
Remembrance Day was first observed in 1919, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month – one year after signing the Armistice Agreement that ended World War 1. Back then it was called Armistice Day, but in 1931 the federal government passed a bill changing the name to Remembrance Day.
Many of us have a history of family members who have served with the Canadian Armed Forces, with some of our stories dating back generations. It is important to continue sharing these, to keep their memories alive.
Like many Canadians, before and after us, my family’s path to this country was paved by war. I was born in the Netherlands, but we left shortly after the Second World War and came to a nation that has always welcomed refugees fleeing the devastation of far-flung conflict.
My family owes so much to Canada, and to the veterans who helped liberate the Netherlands.
How does one pay their respects or say ‘thank you’ to those who paid the ultimate price defending our values and freedom, and protecting those in need? We remember their sacrifice, defend the values for which they fought, and tell their stories so generations will remember those brave men and women.
Let us remember the 7,000 Canadian volunteers who fought in our nation’s first overseas conflict – the South African War (1899-1902). Let us pay tribute to 650,000 men and women from Canada and Newfoundland who fought in the First World War. And honour the 66,000 veterans who died defending freedom. Let us pay our respects to the one million Canadians and Newfoundlanders who defended our values and those of our Allies in the Second World War. And let’s never forget the 45,000 Canadians who died, and the 55,000 wounded.
Let us never forget the 26,000 Canadians who fought in The Korean War, or the loss of life and the wounded Canadians. Let us remember the loss of 1,800 Canadian lives since 1947 (not including the Korean War) and the important role of Canadian Armed Forces in peacekeeping missions around the world; the humanitarian work provided to nations in need and here at home.
On November 8th, as part of Veterans Week, we recognize Indigenous Veterans Day. A day to pay tribute to the estimated 12,000 First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people for their long tradition of military service.
Let us continue to make this a time to honour and remember those who have served Canada, in times of war, military conflict, and peace. Let us remember our veterans and the current members of our armed forces, and honour the ideals they so courageously defend. Please, if you can, attend a Remembrance Day Service.
Lest we forget. Nous nous souviendrons.
Participate in Remembrance Day Events
As we honour Veterans and the Canadian Armed Forces throughout Canada, Newmarket-Aurora and East Gwillimbury will be hosting several Remembrance Day Events that you can attend.
In Newmarket, you can attend a Remembrance Day Parade and Ceremony on November 11 at Doug Duncan Drive at 10:00 AM. The parade will proceed West on Water and Eagle Street to Church Street for service and wreath laying at Veterans Park.
You can also attend the Aurora Legion’s Remembrance Day service at the Aurora Cenotaph (East side of Yonge St, just North of Allaura Blvd.) on Saturday, November 11 at 10:50 AM. Following the ceremony, everyone is welcomed back at the Legion to enjoy Chili.
In East Gwillimbury, the Town and the Legion will be hosting a Remembrance Day Service on November 11 outside the Civic Centre on the front lawn at 10:40 AM. Residents are invited to pay their respects and reflect on Canada’s Veterans.
In Ottawa, the Remembrance Day Ceremony will be streamed live on The Royal Canadian Legion’s Facebook Page for all Canadians to view. The ceremony starts at approximately 10:30 AM.
I encourage everyone to attend their local Remembrance Day ceremony or watch Ottawa’s virtual ceremony to pay honour and reflect on the sacrifices of our veterans. Residents can support their local Royal Canadian Legion by purchasing and wearing a poppy.
Honouring Indigenous Veterans Day
Wednesday, November 8th, marks Indigenous Veterans Day in Newmarket-Aurora and across Canada. Together, we recognize and honour the thousands of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis service members who have served in the Canadian Armed Forces.
For over 200 years, Indigenous Peoples have been – and continue to be – an integral part of Canada’s military history. In the last century, thousands of volunteers from Indigenous communities across the country enlisted to serve in the First and Second World Wars, in the Korean War, and in peacekeeping missions under the United Nations.
I encourage everyone to take time to learn about Indigenous Veterans like Henry Norwest, Tommy Prince, and Debbie Eisan. No matter the barriers, Indigenous Veterans have always stepped forward to serve.
This Wednesday, let us come together to remember those who lost their lives, and those whose lives were forever changed.
Lest we forget.
How Our Government is Supporting Veterans
Canada’s Veterans and their families need to know that they are supported by their fellow Canadians and their Government. Veterans Affairs Canada has made it a priority to provide the services and benefits Veterans need.
Through initiatives that support housing, health and wellness, education, and more, Veterans Affairs is supporting our Veterans, Canadian Armed Forces Members, and their families. Information on eligibility and how to apply for all of these programs can be found on the Veterans Affairs Canada website.
Veterans Independence Program
Through the Veterans Independence Program, Veterans can receive annual tax-free funding to help them remain independent in their own home. This funding covers the cost of services such as grounds maintenance, housekeeping, meal preparation, personal care, and professional health and support services.
Education and Training Benefit
Through this benefit, Veterans who wish to go back to school after serving in the military can receive assistance in paying for a certification, degree, diploma, or additional training. This taxable benefit will help Veterans choose the education that will help them reach their goal and is not limited to formal post-secondary training.
Income Replacement Benefit
The Income Replacement Benefit provides Veterans with monthly financial assistance that ensures their total income will be at least 90 percent of your gross pre-release military salary. This benefit only applies to those who are participating in the Rehabilitation Services and Vocation Assistance Program or if you have a Diminished Earning Capacity.
Canadian Forces Income Support
Veterans Affairs Canada provides a tax-free, monthly benefit to help low-income Veterans, survivors, and dependent children. This benefit supports those who no longer qualify for the Income Replacement Benefit.
Our government is committed to supporting and uplifting Canadian Veterans and their families.
The Meaning of the Poppy
From the last Friday in October to Remembrance Day, millions of Canadians wear a Poppy as a visual pledge to never forget those who served and sacrificed. The Poppy is also a symbol of the Royal Canadian Legion’s Poppy Campaign, which raises funds to support Veterans and their families in need.
The Poppy should be worn with respect on the left side, over the heart. The Poppy should not be affixed with any pin that obstructs it. The flower is encouraged to be worn during the Remembrance period, at funerals of Veterans, and for any commemorative event.