OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Jul 3, 2013) - A departure parade was held today at the Canadian War Museum to mark the upcoming participation of a contingent of over 200 Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members in the 97th annual International Four Days Marches Nijmegen, to be held from July 16 to 19, 2013. Canadian military contingents have participated in this prestigious long-distance marching event, held in the Netherlands, since 1952.
The send-off parade was attended by General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff; Major-General D.B. Millar, Chief of Military Personnel; Rochus Pronk, Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands; Gordon Moore, Dominion President of the Royal Canadian Legion; and James Whitham, Director General of the Canadian War Museum. Approximately 40 to 50 members of the CAF were also in attendance.
"Canada enjoys a special connection to the Netherlands, highlighted by the presence of a strong Canadian Armed Forces contingent at the Nijmegen Marches," said the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence. "As members of the Canadian contingent march through the same regions where Canadians fought and died to liberate the Netherlands, they will remember and honour the bravery and sacrifice that was demonstrated."
The Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, echoed Minister MacKay's sentiments.
"This annual event is a fitting tribute to the great service and sacrifice of Canadians fighting against tyranny and oppression in Europe during the Second World War" said Minister Blaney. "I commend all Canadian Armed Forces Personnel, Members of Parliament and citizens who are committing to this grueling event in honor of brave Veterans."
CAF members will also be joined by a strong civilian VIP contingent which includes three Members of Parliament: Chris Alexander, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence and Member of Parliament for Ajax-Pickering; Wladyslaw Lizon, Member of Parliament for Mississauga; Kellie Leitch, Member of Parliament for Simcoe-Grey.
Led by Brigadier-General Kevin Cotten, the group of marchers is comprised of 178 CAF members. They are supported by CAF medical and logistics staff for a total strength of 210 participants. For the second year, the contingent includes marchers from the Soldier On program, which is dedicated to improving the quality of life of ill and injured military personnel and their families by inspiring them to adopt an active lifestyle.
"I am honoured to have the opportunity to march alongside this contingent of exceptionally strong and resilient Canadian Armed Forces personnel, especially our Soldier On members and the highly motivated civilian participants," said Brigadier-General Cotten. "Marching isn't just for soldiers anymore and this year's Marches will be an unparalleled professional and personal development experience for all those involved."
Marchers wear standard combat clothing and carry a military rucksack weighing at least 10 kilograms. The CAF contingent will cover 160 kilometres through the Dutch countryside and crowded streets of towns in the Nijmegen area - often walking the same terrain where many Canadians fell during the Second World War.
Notes to editor / news director: Media agencies can request interviews with CAF personnel in Nijmegen by contacting the Media Liaison Office at 1-866-377-0811 or 613-996-2353.
Still imagery will be available on the Canadian Forces Image Gallery at: www.combatcamera.forces.gc.ca
Imagery and stories of the Nijmegen Marches will be posted on the following website: http://www.cmp-cpm.forces.gc.ca/nij-nim/index-eng.asp.
For more information about the CAF's participation in the Nijmegen Marches, please consult the following link: http://www.forces.gc.ca/site/news-nouvelles/news-nouvelles-eng.asp?id=4866
For the most recent news stories, videos and photos of CAF training and participation in the Nijmegen Marches, media can visit the official Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/JointTaskForceNijmegen.