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Canadian commemorative ceremony 2017 - Speech by Consul General of Canada, Jeff Nankivell

Premier Wynne; Minister Chan; Permanent Secretary Fung; Director-General Yang;

Diplomatic friends;

Mesdames et Messieurs;




It is my pleasure to welcome you once again to the Canadian Commemorative Ceremony.

This year’s ceremony particularly special for Canadians and our friends in Hong Kong.

Marks the 70th Anniversary of the Canadian Commemorative Ceremony in Hong Kong.

We are also honoured to have special people and groups today:

  • Premier of Ontario, The Honourable Kathleen Wynne;
  • Ontario Minister of International Trade, The Honourable Michael Chan;
  • Along with the Ontario delegation;
  • Also two WWII veterans joining us today:
    • Our dear friend, Mr. Peter Choi, a veteran of the Battle of Hong Kong who has been very supportive in our annual ceremony; and
    • Mr. John Theodore Siewert, a D-Day veteran who was the Quartermaster of USS Satterlee DD626. 

Depuis 1947, le Consulat général du Canada tient cette cérémonie le premier dimanche de décembre, journée marquant l'une des premières batailles dans le Pacifique la Deuxième Guerre mondiale.

The theme for this year’s Veterans Week in Canada was #CanadaRemembers, #LeCanadaseSouvient.

Here in Hong Kong, we remember the 1,975 Canadian soldiers, along with Allied Forces, who fought courageously against overwhelming odds for seventeen-and-a-half days in December 1941.

Also remember nearly four years of hardship – mistreatment, disease, malnutrition, and watching their friends die beside them – which our Canadian soldiers and their allied comrades suffered in the Prisoner of War camps.

One of them was Rifleman Delbert William Louis Welsh, from Magdalen Island, Québec.

He kept a diary while in the camp. In the final entry of his diary on 5 October, 1942, suffering from diphtheria, he wrote:

“B[reakfast]. Never eat anything all day (couldn’t, swollen)”

Rifleman Welsh died that evening, in his 22nd year of life, and is buried in this cemetery.

Over 260 of his Canadian comrades died in the camps on the following two years in similar circumstances.

And so we promise to remember them, along with those who died in the Battle, and those who fought and sacrificed in other theatres of that terrible conflict.

In 2017, the 100th anniversary of Battle of Passchendaele, where Canadians suffered so terribly, people across Canada continued to come out in numbers as strong as ever to commemorate our fallen heroes.

Here in Hong Kong, all of us working at the Government of Canada were so touched to see so many Canadians, Hongkongers, friends from the Commonwealth community, teachers, parents and students attend our annual ceremony.

Canada and Hong Kong not only share a bond with those who defended Hong Kong in the Second World War, but also with those generations who have been coming to this peaceful and beautiful place on the first Sunday of December for seven decades now.

Canada remembers. Hong Kong remembers.

Nous nous souviendrons d’eux.


Today, we are honoured to have Premier of Ontario, The Honourable Kathleen Wynne, to join us.

This is Premier Wynne’s second visit to the Sai Wan War Cemetery to commemorate the fallen. Her last visit was Remembrance Day in November 2015.

37 soldiers from Ontario are remembered in this cemetery, and with this in mind I have the honour of introducing Premier Wynne to deliver her remarks.

Thank you. 多謝。


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