This is a week of remembrance — a time to honour those who have made sacrifices in times of conflict, and to reflect on the lessons of history.
We are all familiar with the symbolism of Remembrance Day, when we pause on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month to commemorate the service and sacrifice of those who served and continue to serve their country. Some members of our UFV community have experienced war first-hand, have served, or have family who are deployed on active duty. People the world over mark this solemn occasion in personal, cultural, or religious ways, sometimes through ceremony, through prayer, or by sharing family stories at home.
You may be less familiar with November 8, which, in 1994, was designated as National Indigenous Veterans Day — a day to acknowledge the many ways in which First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples contributed to Canada’s war efforts and to our country’s reputation as a peacekeeping nation. When these veterans returned home, many did not receive the same benefits and services as non-Indigenous veterans. In fact, it is only since 1995 that they and their families have been allowed to lay wreaths at the National War Memorial in Ottawa to remember their fallen family and friends. On the path of reconciliation, we must continue to acknowledge painful truths like these to make room for healing and change.
These painful truths also include the internment of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War, and the unintentional effects of overseas conflicts on civilians. These truths will impact how many of us choose to acknowledge Remembrance Day.
If you would like to observe this solemn occasion with the UFV community, I invite you to join me tomorrow at the Student Union Society’s virtual Remembrance Day ceremony, which will be livestreamed on Instagram starting at 11:11 am. You can also mark the day by participating in services in your community (many of which are virtual this year in light of the continuing pandemic), and by learning about events that have shaped Canada and the world around us.
I encourage you to take time to think about the many people who serve or who have served their country during conflict, and the invaluable contributions of diverse groups to Allied efforts, which are too often ignored in Canada’s historical record. No matter how you choose to remember, please take good care of yourself and each other.
Dr. Joanne MacLean
President and Vice-Chancellor