People came together to celebrate and honour military families in White Rock and in Surrey over the weekend, for the sixth annual Canadian Walk for Veterans.
Held Saturday (Sept. 23) in Surrey and Sunday (Sept. 24) at Memorial Park in White Rock, the event was co-founded by White Rock resident Marc Burchell and the Equitas Society in 2018.
“The Canadian public tends to associate veterans with those who have fallen in past wars, many years ago, like World War I and II,” Burchell told Peace Arch News at the event.
But, Burchell noted, more than 40,000 Canadian Armed Forces members served in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2014, making it the largest Canadian military deployment since the Second World War.
“(The walk) is to pay tribute to them,” and to Canadian military veterans who are still alive, Burchell explained.
This year’s theme is “Heroes of the Homefront,” with net proceeds benefiting the work of Military Family Resource Centers in regions where in-person events are held. The centres connect military families to a range of programs and services.
Gordie Hogg, a well-know local resident and experienced politician, was master of ceremonies at the White Rock event, which was also attended by municipal, provincial and federal elected representatives.
After the Amazing Grace choir started things off by singing O Canada, accompanied by military musicians, several of the gathered dignitaries spoke before the walkers started, citing the need to support military families in all aspects, including mental health.
“We have heroes here among us today,” Surrey-White Rock MLA Trevor Halford said at the walk.
The Saturday walk was held in the Legion Veterans Village in central Surrey.
In addition to the walks, this year, Burchell teamed up with Juno Award nominee Terry Kelly to compose and record a song inspired by the theme.
To listen to it, visit canadianwalkforveterans.com
Though the walk is in its sixth year, this was the event’s second time in White Rock.
Other B.C. communities where walks are planned include Kamloops, Courtenay and Abbotsford.
– with files from Tracy Holmes