Mr. Speaker, on this, Canada's 150th year as a nation, I rise to honour the men and women who have served our country in uniform, past and present. During Veterans Week and on Remembrance Day, all Canadians are called to express our gratitude and thanks to those who have answered the call of duty to preserve our freedom, human rights, democracy, and rule of law. Their sacrifices have secured and preserved our way of life.
We stand on the shoulders of the brave, loyal, courageous, and heroic men and women who have served in Canada's military. Selflessly, around the world, in World War I, World War II, South Africa, Korea, Rwanda, Bosnia, the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, and in peacekeeping missions, Canadian men and women have bravely stood their ground with uncommon courage.
One hundred years ago, our nation found itself on the battlefields of the Great War at Ypres, the Somme, Passchendaele, Amiens, and Vimy. Our rock-ribbed, steadfast, determined, and brave troops showed the world what Canada was made of.
George Harold, or Harry, Baker, member of Parliament for the riding of Brome, in Quebec, was one of them. Harry was one of 50 members of Parliament and senators who enlisted to serve in the Great War, and Harry was the only one killed. He died in action at Ypres, West Flanders, Belgium, on June 2, 1916. Today, and every day since 1920, parliamentarians pass by the bronze statue of George Harold Baker in the foyer just outside the House of Commons. It is dedicated to one man but personifies a nation's loss and the spirit of those who served.
Prime Minister King made these comments at the dedication:
[The statue] is personal in character, it is also essentially symbolic.... It speaks of Canadians, approximately 600,000 in number who enlisted for service in the Great War, and above all of the more than 60,000 who gave their lives as the supreme sacrifice of this nation in the cause of the World's freedom.
In my hometown of Brantford, Private Peter Alexander Balfour was killed at Vimy. Described at his memorial as a home-loving man who never sought strife of any kind and did not like war, he enlisted at age 30 and responded to what he believed was his call of duty. He left behind his wife and two young children.
From Six Nations of the Grand River territory, 18-year-old Private Isaac Clause, an indigenous soldier, was killed in the battle of Passchendaele on November 6, 1917. A telegram announcing the death of her son was delivered to his mother, Mrs. Aaron Clause, at their home at Sixty-Nine Corners, Ohsweken.
These are but three of 1.7 million Canadians who have served our country over the last century. In the First and Second World Wars alone, 116,000 paid the ultimate price: losing their lives. Ordinary Canadians, from all walks of life, willing to face the horrors of war, regardless of the time or place where they served; this is our collective heritage. Unconditionally and in every respect, our freedom has been won by their blood and sacrifice.
Last Sunday, a Remembrance Day service was held at the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation, where military members of the territory were honoured. Anishinaabe songs and prayers were offered in front of the traditional memorial built as a sacred burial mound. The ceremony included reading the names of 97 Anishinaabe veterans, many who served and paid the ultimate price in the Canadian and American Armed Forces.
In closing, I offer a poem read last Sunday and written by Stacey Laforme, chief of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation. It is engraved on a memorial stone mounted in front of the sacred burial mound. It is called Remember.
To all those who have gone before,
To all the people who have gone to war,
To the men and women who faced death,
To those who will never draw breath,
To the mothers and fathers whose children gave all,
To the husbands and wives whose mate answered the call,
To the children who faced life on their own,
To everyone who talks to the name on a stone,
No medal or ribbon can repay what we owe,
The parade and applause are not enough, and we know.
How to thank someone for everything you have and everything you are?
Without you, never could we have accomplished so much or come so far,
I want to say thank you,
But no words are enough for what you went through.
There is one promise I can give,
The oath that I shall never break for as long as I live,
I will remember that we owe all to you,
A person, a people, I never knew.
I will remember.
Lest we forget.