Lest We Forget
By Jack Bourassa
Lest we forget. It’s that time of the year again. People proudly wearing their red poppies close to their hearts. They give a powerful message: we’ll always remember. Remembrance Day is around the corner. I want us to bring the spirit of remembrance to our daily lives. What’s the best way to honour and remember our brave women and men? There is no one way, but I will share my thoughts and aspirations with you.
Let’s remember our brave women and men who fought for human rights, peace, democracy and social justice. Those are the values, that we as Canadians need to hold on to. Remembrance means continuing the fight. It means not giving up. It means staying strong. It means resilience.
Remembrance Day is observed from coast to coast to coast on November 11. Historically, it marks the end of hostilities during the First World War. Nationally, this day is an opportunity to remember and honour all those who have served in the nation’s defence.
This holiday and the practice of remembrance must continue. Like many of you, I proudly wear my red poppy pin. And like many of you, I remember and honour those who sacrificed their lives. However, I invite you to take a pledge to go beyond that. Honouring, caring and supporting our veterans need to be the core of remembrance. Those who could not make it home and are not with us anymore would be at rest knowing that their sisters and brothers are receiving support, care and love.
The total estimated Canadian Veteran population is 649,300. This number doesn’t include family members, loved ones and survivors. Many have been injured, but others carry invisible wounds with them. They come back hurt in mind and body. They carry with them horrible images that they would re-live even when they’re safe at home. If we support the veterans we know, and those we don’t, then we could help take the burden off their shoulders. Our communities must be welcoming, respectful and supportive to veterans, survivors and their families.
We’ve always been reading about isolation, unemployment, poverty, homelessness and other appalling concerns. While the number of homeless veterans is decreasing, the fact that some go through this is disturbing and shameful on us as a nation. One homeless veteran is too many. This must have no place in Canada. What’s our role as concerned citizens? Support and help those who are at risk by guiding them to governmental and non-for-profit groups that provide the services and resources that they need. Let them know that those services are their rights. Let’s also collectively support organizations and groups that care for our veterans. Be an advocate. Social and political advocacy is key to real positive change. Do you think your community is in need of more veteran support services? Then, advocate for that. Make it a priority and ask elected politicians and the government to take serious action.
All actions are interrelated. Honouring those who served in the nation’s defence must revolve around celebrating the values they have fought for. For instance, in the previous column I wrote about the importance of voting. I mentioned that brave women and men sacrificed their lives for us to have the rights we enjoy today such as democracy. Taking those rights for granted means not appreciating their sacrifices. Giving up also means not being grateful. On this Remembrance Day, I invite you all to think of the rights and the values that we have in Canada and be grateful while taking a pledge to hold on to them. Whether it’s human rights, social justice or democracy, let’s take a pledge that we will hold on to those values.
Now I invite you to close your eyes and think of actions that you’ll take to turn every day to a Remembrance Day. Lest We Forget.
This column appeared in the Yellowknifer on November 6, 2019.