Canada marks National Day of Honour

To honour those who took part in 12-year Afghan mission

The Chinook helicopter on Parliament Hill
PHOTO: Alison Sandor CFRA

The Harper government rolled out the red carpet Friday to honour the 40,000 Canadian soldiers that fought in Afghanistan between 2002 and 2014. 

The main commemoration in Ottawa featured a parade by over 10,000 veterans, a 21-gun salute, two flypasts by aircrafts involved in the Afghan mission and a moment of silent.

There was also a service in the Senate for the families of the 158 Canadians who died in Afghanistan.

“It’s the end of a very big chapter for me, that really means something.  It’s also an opportunity for me to honour my brothers and sisters who passed on.”” Private Mireille Michaud, one of the soldiers in the parade told CJAD.

“It’s a special day for me, I served in Afghanistan in 2007 and I was injured, I lost my leg above the knee. My life is not done, I need to continue and move on, so for me today is very important,” Corporal Dominique Laroque, who was also in the parade, added.

Laroque lost his leg after he drove over an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) and his vehicle exploded.

The same thing happened to Master Corporal Natasha Dupuis.  She was not physically injured, but she is still battling Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

“Two of my colleagues passed on and others were injured, this event stays with me.  It was really tragic and when I got back home, it was really hard to get back to normal life,"she said.

“Humans being humans, some of us come back with mental issues, I’m talking PTSD.”

The ceremonies were not without controversy.

The flag that flew over the Canadian headquarters in Afghanistan was presented to Prime Minister Stephen Harper during the ceremony.  But the Royal Canadian Legion said it should be presented to the Governor General instead, because he is the commander in chief of Canada's armed forces.

The Legion was also critical of the government for not giving more advance notice to allow them to properly plan local events. 

The local events were held across Canada, including five in Quebec at the military bases at Longue Pointe, St-Jean, Quebec City, Bagotville and Val cartier.

 

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