Me­mo­rial hon­ours hu­man­ity

The Daily Courier - - THE OKANAGAN WEEKEND - By DAVID B.J. SNYDER

On Satur­day, Sept. 30, a bri­gade of peo­ple, sev­eral hun­dred in uni­form, stood in re­spect­ful wit­ness as then-Lt.-Gov. Ju­dith Gui­chon and the am­bas­sador from Afghanistan cut a long blue rib­bon, un­veil­ing Bri­tish Columbia’s Afghanistan War Me­mo­rial in Vic­to­ria.

“I can as­sure you that the peo­ple of Afghanistan have not for­got­ten,” Afghan am­bas­sador Shinkai Karokhail said. “We have not for­got­ten those who have given their ev­ery­thing so that our chil­dren could grow, learn, pros­per and live in peace.”

Set at the cor­ner of Quadra and Court­ney streets at the site of a chil­dren’s play­ground on Vic­to­ria’s court­house grounds, a new gran­ite marker stands. It de­picts a Cana­dian sol­dier and a boy, their hands out­stretched un­der a maple tree amid its scat­tered leaves. This gran­ite struc­ture hon­ours the 40,000 Cana­di­ans who served in the Afghan mis­sion from 2002-2014.

This me­mo­rial de­parts from the tra­di­tional mil­i­tary memo­ri­als by em­pha­siz­ing the hu­man­i­tar­ian as­pects of the mis­sion.

The me­mo­rial lists 163 Cana­di­ans who died, in­clud­ing five civil­ians, and rec­og­nizes those who re­turned with men­tal or phys­i­cal wounds. Four­teen cit­i­zens from Bri­tish Columbia died in Afghanistan in­clud­ing Michelle Lang, a re­porter.

The con­cept of an Afghanistan me­mo­rial was iden­ti­fied through a ca­sual con­ver­sa­tion be­tween Vic­to­ria Coun. Chris Coleman, and Dr. Richard Nut­tall. This led to a com­mit­tee, later a so­ci­ety of nine in­spired directors and an ad­vi­sory group of le­gal char­ity and vet­er­ans chaired by Brig. Gen. (ret.) J.E.L. Goll­ner; this project was a five-year ef­fort.

Fund­ing came from DVA and four prom­i­nent Vic­to­ria busi­ness­men.

The B.C. Afghanistan Me­mo­rial hon­ours those who served; those who died dur­ing the mis­sion; those who re­turned with men­tal and phys­i­cal wounds as well as fam­i­lies and loved ones who had to cope when fam­ily mem­bers were de­ployed.

On pa­rade in the Vet­er­ans Guard, were two Bri­tish Columbia Dra­goons the com­mand­ing of­fi­cer, Lt. Col. Mike McGinty and RSM David Jones and CWO Sean Parker, both who served in Afghanistan.

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