Hundreds gather to honour fallen firefighters
Hundreds of firefighters from across the country were joined by nearly 500 people Sunday to honour 16 more Canadian firefighters killed in jobrelated incidents or illnesses.
The sombre crowd gathered on the lawn of Parliament Hill for an emotional ceremony to mark the most recent additions to the Canadian honour roll.
“Today as we honour all types of firefighters — whether full-time, volunteer, wildland, or military, from the past and present — who have died serving their communities, we can’t help but think of that Canadian spirit that first organized groups into fire brigades,” said Robert Kirkpatrick, president of the Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation. “Their courage and sense of duty to their communities has been passed on to (the fallen men) and to every firefighter across Canada.”
Organized by the foundation, Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day was expected to be the keynote speaker, but was unable to attend due to a family emergency.
This was the fifth annual ceremony organized by the volunteer-based foundation, created in 2003.
The central part of the event was the handing of the helmet of a fallen firefighter to a family member. During the handover, many family members sobbed and throughout the crowd.
“They deserve to be honoured for what they do, they deserve to be recognized,” said Luanne Donahoe, the wife of the Capt. Paul Donahoe of Markham after the final salute and a march completed the ceremony
He died in 2007 at 51 of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, one of nine of the 16 men added who died from a work-related illness.
“When he was diagnosed, I said to him: ‘If you knew when you got in the fire department what you know now, would you still be one now, and he said ‘absolutely’,” Luanne Donahoe said.