Welcome everyone and HAPPY BIRTHDAY CANADA!
We begin our celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday this morning with the acknowledgement that we stand on the ancestral lands of the Saugeen Metis of the Anishanabi Nation at a time of reconciliation with the past and in the dawn of hope for a future of inclusiveness and brotherhood.
Being Canadian means many things to each of us. Coming from a military family, I have had the privilege of living in several communities from the west coast to the east coast. Each of them were quite different, but, like our municipality, all held the strong common bonds of community, of shared hopes and dreams for our young people, of care and compassion for our most vulnerable. The vistas may change across this country, and the landscape will reflect the unique beauty and the challenges of each corner of our land, but at the heart of a Canadian lies the knowledge and appreciation that people here value each other, that we can rely on our neighbours, our friends, our communities, and that working together for the common good can produce amazing successes.
We treasure our safe communities, our heritage, our democratic, free society; we welcome newcomers, the diversity and strengths of purpose and industry they bring and we embrace the opportunities that exist for our future. These are the integral pieces of the fabric of Canada.
We are so proud of and grateful for the brave efforts of the men and women in uniform who have served to maintain those freedoms. We owe a debt of gratitude to all our Canadian heroes: our police, our firefighters and our service men and women.
Canada’s military personnel have distinguished themselves since Confederation in conflicts from the Boer War, to the war in Afghanistan and now the current mission in Latvia. The names of our native sons lost in combat in the first Great War are engraved here on our Cenotaph. Canada has played an important role in United Nations peacekeeping operations worldwide. At home, they are often the first responders to community disasters.
Today, on Canada’s sesquicentennial and the 75th anniversary of the military presence in our community, it is fitting that we include a special ceremony to acknowledge the participation of the 4th Canadian Division Training Centre in the life of our community and in our national celebration.
The Freedom of the City ceremony is an honour bestowed by a municipality upon military units which have earned their trust. This ceremony allows them the freedom to parade through our town and is a declaration of the bond between the regiment and our citizenry. It was first brought to our community in 1995, however it dates back to medieval times when some citizens were granted freedom from the practice of serfdom in a community. We are delighted to reaffirm our respect, and our high regard for the men and women who are training here for service to our country.
I’d like to share with you all a little a statement of the purpose of the 4th Canadian Division Training Centre in Meaford – and its value not only to Canada, but internationally as well.
The goal for this facility for the last year was to train and generate a strong, confident and integrated Army brigade, some of whom stand before us today. Their objective is to provide scalable, mission-tailored, and responsive forces for the full spectrum of operations required. Thanks to their efforts, 4th Canadian Division will be ready for missions in Latvia, Iraq, Ukraine and anywhere else the Government of Canada may require them in the coming years.
It is with grateful admiration for their commitment to our country and their dedication to developing their peacekeeping skills which are much needed in this world today, that we wish them all Godspeed and good health. Many thanks, Major Plaunt and your troops for your service to our country and for participating in the festivities today.
Thanks also go to Branch 32 of the Royal Canadian Legion, to the Goldenaires who led us in singing our national anthem; the pipes and drums provided by Grey County Highlanders and to our staff team and all the sponsors and community groups who have organized this wonderful celebration of our nation’s 150th birthday.
I now Welcome our M.P. Larry Miller to bring greetings on behalf of the Federal Government.
And welcome to M.P.P. Bill Walker to bring greetings from the Province of Ontario.
I will close now with an invitation to join me and all of Council at the tent at 12:00 noon for the essential birthday cake which again has been provided by Bill’s ValuMart. The day will continue with fun activities throughout the afternoon, and beginning at 6:00 in Bognor; all followed, of course with fireworks at dusk.
Thank you all for joining us today – HAPPY CANADA DAY!
Barb Clumpus, Mayor, Municipality of Meaford