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North Island-Powell River MP dedicates memorial to WWI fighters in Turkey

Blaney is also NDP Critic for Veterans Affairs
North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney (left) in Gallipoli, Turkey in September. Photo courtesy Facebook/Rachel Blaney

North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney was in Turkey this September, where she helped dedicate a memorial to Canadians who fought there in the First World War.

Blaney’s visit to Gallipoli on Sept. 27 was to help dedicate the Gallipoli Newfoundland Memorial, which honours the members of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment who fought there for nearly four months during the First World War. Blaney, NDP critic for Veterans Affairs, joined the Minister of Veterans Affairs; the Speaker of the Senate; representatives of the Royal Canadian Legion, Newfoundland and Labrador Command; and representatives of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador on this journey.

“I am humbled to be part of such a special event, to honour the incredibly brave Newfoundlanders who endured a significant burden fighting at Gallipoli Peninsula,” Blaney said. “Thousands of Newfoundlanders served and dozens died in incredibly harsh conditions. We must remember these courageous soldiers who sacrificed so much to fight for freedom.”

The Gallipoli Newfoundland Memorial marks the completion of the “Trail of the Caribou,” which represents the important battles the Royal Newfoundland Regiment fought during the First World War. The monument is adjacent to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Hill 10 Cemetery, where eight soldiers from the Newfoundland Regiment are buried.

“We were in Turkey to commemorate the battle at Gallipoli where the Newfoundlanders fought against Turkish forces,” Blaney says. “I was deeply moved by the Kemal Atatürk Memorial, which states that anyone who lost their lives fighting in Turkey now lies in the soil of a friendly country. The mothers who sent their sons from far away countries can wipe their tears because their sons who lost their lives in Turkey are now Turkey’s sons as well. It highlights how important it is for us to recognize humanity in war, even in the people we fight against.”

During the trip to Turkey, Blaney and her colleagues also visited the Green Hill Cemetery, where one Canadian from Oshawa, Ontario, is buried; Amzack Cemetery, where 12 soldiers from the Newfoundland Regiment are buried; Lancashire Landing Cemetery, where four Canadians and two soldiers from the Newfoundland Regiment are buried; and Lone Pine Australian Monument, where two Canadians are buried and four Canadians are listed on the memorial.

“It is always devastating to see so many grave sites and know that the people who died were so young,” Blaney said. “We must always remember the terrible cost that people pay during war. I am honoured to represent Canadians from coast to coast on this journey and to witness the completion of the Newfoundland Caribou Trail.”

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