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The Torch; Be Yours: Remembrance Day 2021


Today marks Remembrance Day.


It is 90 years exactly since November 11, 1931, when Canadians “first stood in silence to honour and remember the brave men and women who served and continue to serve Canada during times of war, conflict, and peace.”[1]


On Monday, we honoured Indigenous veterans distinctively. A solemn moment to stand with the estimated 14,000 Indigenous people who walked in two worlds, despite the many personal costs, and who served and continue to serve at great risk for a country that turned their backs on them once they returned.[2]


Now today, we stand with all veterans in a moment as solemn.


We are reminded today of the magnitude of bravery, sacrifice, and personal loss that allow us to live in the country we call home today.


A country with a complex history. A country that has changed much since 1931 and will continue to evolve well into the future.


We arrived together to this day from different cultures, religions, and lived experiences. A shared history of darkness and triumph, and moments of both and neither coinciding daily. We arrive at this day, despite our differences, our perspectives, our experiences. Lives made possible by the sacrifice of those who came before us and those who continue to serve our country for us.


For us all.


It is said that war, and death, are the great equalizers. Tommy Prince’s story shared on Monday is a testament to that.[3] Prince, a man who was afforded the opportunity to rise above the systemic harms perpetrated against his kin, but only during the war. His story is also a reminder of how in moments of peace and healing that those fractures re-appear.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission sought to further both truth and reconciliation in a fractured country, one that continues to see inequalities, systemic racism, and a structure of second-class citizenship.


There remain gaps in education, inequalities in the justice system, systemic failures in child welfare services, and racism in our healthcare. But today is a reminder that there is room to hope, dream, and hold one another in community despite this. For today is also a reminder of the brave people who risked their lives for a better tomorrow. People who envisioned a country of greatness, of opportunity, and possibility even when it seemed unlikely.


Today we honour their lives by aspiring to the ideals they fought for and continue to fight for. We do their sacrifices justice by committing to a country that matches their hopes and dreams, and we put in the work to ensure that their memories are reflected in every step we take towards truth and reconciliation for ourselves, our neighbors, our communities, and our country.


We remember, and in that great remembering, we acknowledge our responsibility to guard their sacrifices and continue their work. Because it is not enough to remember, we must ensure our memories never fail, but we almost must take up the work.


As John Mcrae wrote in Flanders Field,


Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.”[4]


The foe may have changed, but the work continues, and it is up to us dear readers to ensure that the torch is held high..for all Canadians.


Lest we forget.


Until next time,


Team ReconciliACTION YEG


[1] Government of Canada, Government of Canada honours those who served to protect democracy and freedom (November 2015), online: Veteran Affairs News Release <https://www.canada.ca/en/veterans-affairs-canada/news/2015/11/government-of-canada-honours-those-who-served-to-protect-freedom-and-democracy.html>.

[2] Veterans Affairs Canada, Indigenous Veterans (November 2021), online: <https://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/people-and-stories/indigenous-veterans>.

[3] ReconciliACTION YEG, “Tommy Prince: The Story of a Tragic Warrior” (November 2021), online: <https://reconciliactionyeg.wixsite.com/website/post/tommy-prince-the-story-of-a-tragic-warrior>.

[4] John McCrae, In Flanders Field (May 1915), online: Poetry Foundation <https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/47380/in-flanders-fields>.

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