I am a Canadian, but have been 'away' from Canada for the last 10 years. This year has been spent re-adjusting to a changed Canada. During my time away, I was exposed to the effects of war in Kuwait, Palestine, Israel, Turkey, Cambodia & Sri Lanka through both my work with those who have been traumatized by war, and through just visiting these areas.
While away, I promoted in conversations, in a naive and proud way, Canada as a country that did not support war and violence as a solution, but rather, as a country of social justice, rule of law & equity, with its military dedicated to peace-keeping. Upon my return, I find that this Canada does not exist - our cities have numerous homeless, the disparity between rich and poor has increased, health-care coverage is not applied to returning Canadians for three months, even in life-sustaining therapy, public education is underfunded and university is only accessed by those with means. What happened to Canada? Where are our leaders of substance with core values of justice and equity?
How do these ramblings this relate to the question above? After viewing and experiencing, to some small measure, the effects of war, I have concluded that it is extremely important to keep alive the memories of past war. However, the purpose of keeping these memories alive is to demonstrate and remember the foolishness, futility and stupidity of war; to reinforce that violence and war is NEVER a solution.
I am deeply disturbed by our present government's re-militarization of Canada, both in their emphasis of our troops being now in the role of combatants rather than peace-keepers, and today, in their support of the 'Celebration of the battle of Vimy' Ridge as a time when 'Canada became of age'. Is violence and war a method of 'coming of age' to be celebrated? CBC coverage in this similar vein is equally disturbing. When will we ever learn?
If Canadian milestones and sacrifices are to be celebrated, then choose life-building and life-affirming achievements such as universal health care, Canadian Charter of Rights, excellence in education as achievements to be lauded. The futility of war, for example 'the war to end all wars' -- is not something to be celebrated, but rather something to be mourned.