A special ceremony will be held in Campbell River to commemorate Canada’s contribution towards the end of Nazi Germany rule in the Netherlands during World War II.
Pieter Koeleman made a presentation to council at last week’s Monday meeting to explain the significance of the event.
“On May 5, 2015 it will be 70 years ago that the Netherlands were liberated by the allied forces, ending a five-year long occupation by Nazi Germany – five years of occupation bringing destruction and immense suffering to the Dutch population,” Koeleman said. “The Canadian Armed Forces (the First Canadian Army) played such a significant and decisive role in liberating the Netherlands from this horrible occupation.”
To honour those who fought – some of whom lost their lives in doing so – a ceremony will take place on Tuesday, May 5 at Spirit Square.
“We’d like to express our gratitude to the Canadian people, especially those who have given their lives for our freedom,” Koeleman said. “There’s a special connection between our two countries and this year’s motto is ‘two countries, one spirit.’”
Koeleman said a local committee of Dutch nationals and descendants is in the process of organizing the May 5 event.
The committee has already secured 19 Wing Comox to participate in the ceremony and in the parade, which will assemble at the Royal Canadian Legion and march to the cenotaph at Spirit Square.
The parade starts at 6 p.m. and the ceremony at 6:30 p.m.
Campbell River’s event is one of many that will be celebrated across Canada and in the Netherlands, which has been celebrating Liberation Day since 1945.
Originally the day was commemorated every five years but in 1990 the day was declared a national holiday in the Netherlands and has since been celebrated every year with parades and festivals held in most Dutch communities.
Koeleman said in Campbell River the Dutch community has been quietly celebrating for years.
“Since 1995 the Dutch people, the people of Dutch descent and so many with Dutch connections come to the cenotaph to commemorate the liberation, to commemorate the sacrifices but also to commemorate the values of freedom and peace,” Koeleman said. “It was a special moment in 2005 that the group presented to the Royal Canadian Legion, and also the citizens of Campbell River, a special cairn that was put in the cenotaph.”