I was 22 the first time I really celebrated Remembrance Day. Born and raised in Québec, I had to go all the way to BC to find out that this rainy day of November which, for me, was merely a day off, had a lot of significance for a whole lot of people. And I’ve been ashamed of my ignorance ever since.

Sure, I knew that we were remembering the soldiers who died at war. And I have a degree in history, so I knew what the wars were all about. But in BC (and, I believe, in most of English Canada), schools organize special events for Remembrance Day; they invite veterans or pipers, they read texts or write essays on the subject, they put up special shows… In Québec, there never was any of that.

I do understand the historical reasons behind Québec’s uneasiness around the war. At the beginning of World War II, William Lyon Mackenzie King was elected Prime Minister of Canada in part because of a promise made to Quebeckers that there would be no conscription for a war that a majority of the province’s residents thought was not theirs to fight. Later, when he became pressured to resort to conscription by English Canadians who had kept closer ties to Great Britain, Mackenzie King held a plebiscite asking the entire Canadian population to relieve him from a promise made to Québec only. Québec voted no. Canada voted yes. There was a conscription.

The sad thing is, conscription or not, a lot of Quebeckers volunteered to fight in that war and many others. They gave their limbs, their sanity or even their lives for world peace and they played an enormous role in our victories. They deserve to be remembered regardless of the politics that surrounded the issue. You can remember veterans and thank them for their many sacrifices even if you feel no tie to Canada. There doesn’t need to be a link between national identity and our gratitude for generations of soldiers who risked everything so that we can enjoy our freedoms today.

So today I’m wearing my poppy proudly. Happy Remembrance Day. And thanks a bunch to all those who fought and all those who are still fighting today (once again, whether you agree or not with the government’s policy on Afghanistan shouldn’t have anything to do with your support for the men and women in uniform).

And if you need even more inspiration, take a look at this awesome video (pour la version française, cliquez ici).

4 Responses to “Remembering…”

  1. Anne Says:

    I just looked at the video that is, indeed, awesome. Thank you.

  2. sophie Says:

    I had even forgotten, when I wrote my post, that Remembrance Day is not even a statutory holiday in Québec… People here don’t believe me when I tell them!

  3. Danielle Says:

    C’est vrai qu’ici, journée fériée et manifestations diverses! Hommages aux anciens combattants et tout! Mais bon, je ne participe pas mais j’apprécie quand même que cette journée existe, contrairement à mes souvenirs québécois… ce n’est qu’ici que j’ai compris le sens du 11 novembre.

  4. Wild in the City » Blog Archive » The Army and me… Says:

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