On November 11th, we remember and honour all the individuals who have and continue to serve in Canada’s military services. While terms like values, freedoms and rights have recently been connected to the political rhetoric of our times, the basis of these definitions regardless of their interpretation are a result of the sacrifice and on-going contributions of many.

Remembrance Day was established in 1919 to mark the end of the First World War and has evolved over the years to recognize the brave men and women who have died in service to their country. This year, in the midst of unrest, war and geopolitical tensions around the world, it is important to remember that Remembrance Day is also an occasion to champion peace.

Last year, I discussed the experiences of Canada’s Indigenous, Black, and other racialized soldiers who served Canada bravely while also facing discrimination at home, and the anniversary of the first conflict (Gulf War) in which women served in combat roles within Canada’s Armed Forces. There are many stories of the bravery and courage of Canadian soldiers throughout our country’s history. I recently read several biographies of Indigenous veterans who resided in the Haldimand Tract, where the University of Waterloo’s teaching, learning, and research takes place. Those individuals played important roles within their regiments and units. As retired Waterloo History Professor James Walker described in his 1989 paper on race and recruitment, more than 3,500 Indigenous, 1,000 Black and hundreds of Chinese and Japanese men joined the Canadian Forces during WWI, yet racism and prejudice prevented more from enlisting.

While Canada may have its share of challenges, we should all be grateful for the peace, freedom and security that many of us take for granted. Whether here in Canada or abroad, there is still much to be done to bolster equity, freedom and security.

The Faculty of Health and Indigenous Knowledge Keeper Myeengun Henry will be hosting a ceremony in the SLC Great Hall beginning at 10:45am. Whether you are able to attend or not, I encourage our community to pause and reflect at 11:00 a.m. to honour the brave individuals who served and continue to serve in the Armed Forces.