What Canadians are saying as they mark Remembrance Day across the country

Canadians filled cenotaph and memorial sites across the country to mark Remembrance Day and pay tribute to soldiers who served Canada, both in active combat and peacekeeping or crisis management roles. Here's a sample of what dignitaries and everyday Canadians alike are saying on the occasion:

“This is an annual event that should be done for forever in time where … we remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, those who served our country since 1867 until today. This is why I’m here and I’ll be here every year for the rest of my time." — Paul Hebert, who served in the Canadian Armed Forces for 33 years and attended Remembrance Day ceremonies in Montreal.

“The women — the wives, the mothers, the daughters, who kept the home fires burning, who sacrificed themselves and worked two jobs. They were looking after their families ...They pulled their weight and more. We don't talk about the women." — Melanie Stephens, who attended ceremonies in Toronto.

"I don't think anything brings the war back to me like coming here for an occasion like this. It really is a reminder … of what people a little older than I went through." — Retired Rev. Bob Jones, a former military chaplain, who attended the Remembrance Day event at the Fredericton cenotaph.

"I don't know how I managed to be this lucky. Knowing how many of my family have served before me, it's an absolute incredible opportunity for me to be here." — Retired Cpl. Alan Roy, who attended a Remembrance Day ceremony at Toronto's Old City Hall.

“Remembrance Day is an opportunity to recognize members of the Canadian Armed Forces who have courageously answered the call of duty. When it was needed most, they left behind their families and homes. Many returned with severe trauma – or didn’t return at all. Their sacrifice is a debt that we can never repay. As we reflect on this debt, we are reminded that this day is not just about the past; it is about our present and our future. From the battlefields of the First and Second World Wars, to Korea and Afghanistan, and in peacekeeping operations, to the training grounds for Ukrainian soldiers, and here at home, responding to a global pandemic and to climate-related disasters, Canadian Armed Forces members continue to show unwavering resolve and bravery." — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

“In 1918, at the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the guns of war finally fell silent.

"For four years, more than 600,000 Canadians had answered the call of duty and served Canada in the Great War. Through the mud and turmoil of the greatest conflict the world had ever seen, these brave heroes were driven forward by the incredible promise of freedom and the love of their common home.

“In the years since, generations of Canadians have bravely answered the same call, choosing to stand on guard for Canada to keep it strong and free. In times of war, they have served in the seas, in the air and on lands far from home, defending freedom whenever it was threatened. In times of peace, they have stood proudly in uniform, unshaken in their resolve to preserve the values that others have sacrificed their own lives to secure." — Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre

"Today, I honour my great-grandfather, Hira Singh who was an officer with the allied force. May we never forget all those who sacrificed so much for our freedoms. Lest we forget." — NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh

"This year, on this Remembrance Day, we’re also mindful of the ongoing conflicts around the world, including the wars in Ukraine and the Middle East. While we pray for lasting peace in these regions, these conflicts remind us that our freedom and safety should never be taken for granted." — Ontario Premier Doug Ford

"Today we have to thank people that gave their lives for preserving liberty … I think it’s important that we remember that of course war has to be the last solution, but unfortunately we’ll still probably have some wars. So we need to have people that are involved but today we have to remember the ones who were very brave and (defended) our liberties." — Quebec Premier François Legault

"We are indebted to veterans and those who serve today – it is their service that has allowed each and every Manitoban to live in a safe province and participate in our strong democracy." — Manitoba Premier Wab Kinew

"In these uncertain times, we must not forget the terrible sacrifice made by too many. Conflicts around the world threaten people's lives, freedom and security. It is important we recognize the sacrifices of those who commit their lives to the service of our country." — B.C. Premier David Eby

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 11, 2023.

The Canadian Press