Raising the United Nations flag
Thanks to G.Michael Comeau, veteran of UN Peacekeeping and founder of the Central Ontario Chapter of CAVUNP, the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury was the first municipality in Ontario to raise the United Nations flag, in recognition of Canadian Peacekeepers' Day, August 9.
It was on August 9, 1974, that Canada experienced its greatest single loss of Peacekeeping lives, when a UN supply plane was shot down by Syrian missiles, killing all 9 Canadian Peacekeepers on board.
The day is now recognized nationally, but BWG has continued to raise the UN flag, honouring not only Peacekeepers, but Peacemakers – a ceremony now held at Sunshine Square and Brian Collier Way, in recognition of Sapper Brian Collier, who gave his life in a UN-sanctioned mission in Afghanistan, in 2010.
Local politicians, Emergency responders and Legionnaires joined World War II Veteran Bert Hogg, the Collier family, and Blue Berets who served on UN Peacekeeping missions, including Comeau, at the flag-raising on August 8 – sending a message of peace and freedom, said CAVUNP chapter president Fern Taillefer, “in memory of all who gave their lives for peace.”
UN Peacekeeping was a uniquely Canadian solution, noted MP Peter Van Loan, developed under Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson to address the Suez Crisis, “trying to keep the peace between parties looking to keep the peace.” In today's complicated world, he said, there are fewer opportunities for peacekeeping, and “more opportunities for peace-making.”
Over more than a century, Canadians have served, bringing “peace to people thousands of miles away... It is the Canadian way, and it is the our contribution to do our part, to make the world a more peaceful place,” the MP said.
BWG Mayor Rob Keffer proclaimed August 6-12 as Peacekeepers' Week, and August 9 as National Peacekeepers' Day in the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury.