Mayor Bowman – “We Must Take the Time to Remember and Reflect”
WINNIPEG, MB. – A special Canada 150 Candlelight Service of Remembrance was held at Brookside Cemetery last month which I had the honour of participating in. This remembrance has special power for us today, as we recall that these traditional lands of the First Nations and Métis peoples have sheltered generations of Winnipeggers not only in joy, but also in sorrow. Not only in life, but also when earthly life, is past.
Brookside Cemetery and its Field of Honour, has a great historic resonance for the people of our city. More than 12,000 veterans, service people, and war heroes, are interred there.
This Field of Honour is home to Canada’s only Commonwealth War Graves Commission Stone of Remembrance.
We live in a busy and distracting time – besieged by an unceasing torrent of images and information.
We should never be so busy, or distracted, that we forget the people, events, and ideals that define us. We must take the time to remember, and reflect, and show our gratitude.
On September 10th, in 1939, Canada entered World War II. This was the day which changed the lives of so many, forever. This day began a chapter of sorrow, sacrifice, heroism and courage for so many citizens of Winnipeg.
This year we marked the 150th anniversary of Canada’s Confederation, an anniversary which brought forth many emotions.
There is much pride in our past and our achievements. There is also sorrow for Canada’s mistakes, most painfully the wrongs done to Indigenous peoples over centuries.
There is no doubt that our idea of Canada, our vision of Canada, is an idea which can and must continue to grow: until we truly become the just and beautiful “True North”, for all our peoples.
Without the men and women who sacrificed so much, those who rest in the Field of Honour, we would not have the opportunity to reach for that idea of Canada.
This year, we mark the moments of courage which helped define us.
A century since the roar of the guns at Vimy Ridge, the first time all four Canadian divisions fought together, in World War I.
A century since the terror of Passchendaele, where, despite 16,000 casualties, the Canadians prevailed.
Three-quarters of a century since the carnage of Dieppe: a defeat that paved the way to victory, at D-Day.
We remember all those Canadians, who have done their duty – and who continue to do their duty – well and bravely; in wartime, peacekeeping, disaster relief and in humanitarian efforts worldwide.
We give thanks for the men and women of the Canadian Army, the Royal Canadian Navy, and the Royal Canadian Air Force. The members of the Canadian Forces Reserves, and the members of the Canadian Merchant Navy.
We also give extraordinary thanks for our firefighters and police officers, and all who risk their lives for the safety and security of our community.
As Mayor, it is my privilege to work each day, with members of the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service, and the Winnipeg Police Service. Their courage and compassion is a miracle of service I’ve witnessed, first-hand and I know Winnipeggers are very grateful.
Brookside Cemetery is home to the Winnipeg Fire Fighters’ Memorial Monument, in a special section dedicated to our firefighters. September 10, 2017 has been proclaimed the first Firefighters’ National Memorial Day, and our flags flew at half-mast, to honour their sacrifices.
All those who serve our community and our nation with such courage, discipline, and honour – at great risk to themselves, at home or abroad – offer us a truly noble example of service for which we must be grateful.
And, for the fallen and the veterans and their families who rest in this Field of Honour our remembrance must endure.
Indigenous and non-Indigenous, men and women, people of all backgrounds and faiths and walks of life have sacrificed to give us the opportunity to become the kind of Winnipeg, and the kind of Canada, we aspire to be.
Every candle that was lit, is a ray of hope for the future that they have given us. And our constant remembrance and gratitude, is a reflection of who we wish to be, can be, and will become, tomorrow.
Mayor Brian Bowman for MyToba News
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