Mr. Speaker, I rise today to remember the loss of 329 people on Air-India flight 182, which was destroyed in a heinous act of terror 20 years ago.
Today many of their relatives have joined the Prime Minister, the leaders of the three opposition parties and the premier of British Columbia at a special commemorative service in Ireland. Others have joined us here this afternoon in Parliament.
I am honoured by their presence here today, and I thank them for coming. I too join with all of my colleagues in Parliament and all Canadians in offering our condolences.
When we lose loved ones, we often gather together as family and friends to share recollections about them. These stories help us to remember and, perhaps, to begin the healing process.
I have with me today a book that tells the stories of the people on Air-India flight 182, entitled Love, Honour, Respect: The Memories of Our Loved Ones . It was produced by some of their families to honour the wives, husbands, children and parents who were lost that day off the coast of Ireland. A copy of it was presented to the Prime Minister when he met with families on June 7 in Toronto.
When I met recently with family members, both in Toronto and in Vancouver, their personal words went beyond the stories in this book. No one could be untouched by the sense of loss, the pain, the hurt and, yes, the anger of those who lost loved ones. Family members helped me understand the many lives that were changed forever by this tragedy and the contributions that those who died might have made to our country and our world.
We cannot bring back these innocent victims, but we can honour their lives by ensuring that events such as the one that took them from us never happen again and that we do all we can to prevent terrorist acts around the world.
Above these chambers and across Canada today, we have lowered flags and have declared a national day of mourning to show that we remember those who were lost. It is in this same spirit of commemoration that the government will work with family members on how best to commemorate permanently the Air-India victims and the lives of their relatives.
Yesterday the Prime Minister announced that June 23 will be a national day for Canadians to remember the victims of terrorism. It is fitting that this day should be June 23, the day of the first mass terror attack in our history. In this way, we will ensure that Canadians will always remember the costs of such terror and the lives and loved ones lost.
The writing of the late Rabindranath Tagore, one of modern India's greatest poets, is found on several pages in the memorial book with me today. In one verse, he writes:
Let the dead have the immortality of fame, but the living the immortality of love
I hope that by our actions today and in the future we can offer compassion and support to the living, whose lives were changed forever by this event.
As the Prime Minister said this morning in a moving service of commemoration in Ireland:
--never forget that remembrance is in itself a timeless act of love. In so doing, we keep alive the memory of those who are missed. We feel them in our hearts. We mourn them, we celebrate them. And always, and forever, we remember.