Traditionally, the role of the military in Canada has been to defend our borders against invaders and to support the civil government in times of political crisis. In the twentieth century, the Canadian military has also fought to defend our democratic way of life against militaristic and non-democratic empires seeking to expand their influence throughout the world.

Few of us can imagine our lives without our basic rights and freedoms. Yet the members of the Canadian military, in fulfilling their daily responsibilities, have to sacrifice many of those rights and freedoms.

The Second Battle of Ypres, 22 April to 25 May 1915, by Richard Jack.
Copyright Canadian War Museum (CN 8179).

The Second Battle of Ypres, 22 April to 25 May 1915, by Richard Jack.

At the Second Battle of Ypres, Canadian troops experienced, perhaps for the first time, the true horrors of the First World War. They faced a murderous German offensive that was aided by the use of poisonous chlorine gas, commonly known as "mustard gas." The Canadians suffered more than 6,000 casualties.

Members of the military give up the right to

  • express their opinions freely
  • associate freely with all individuals and groups;
  • voice their political opinions in public;
  • work actively for a political party;
  • run for office while in the service;
  • choose the clothes they want to wear or the style of their hair;
  • live where they wish;
  • determine what they will do;
  • disobey an employer without risking imprisonment;
  • exercise full legal rights (Members of the military do not have unlimited right to life, liberty, and security of person. Some critics suggest that a soldier suspected of a crime is considered to be guilty until proven innocent. An accused soldier has the right to a military trial rather than a trial in the Canadian legal system.); and
  • protect their own lives.
Vimy Ridge, 9-14 April 1917.
Canada; An Illustrated Weekly Journal, 21 April 1917. ©Chinook Multimedia Inc

Vimy Ridge, 9-14 April 1917.

The soldier must follow orders even when faced by the likelihood of his or her own death. Tens of thousands of Canadian soldiers have made the ultimate sacrifice. They have given their lives to defend Canada and the values for which it stands.

Our military has fulfilled its responsibilities day after day, year after year. Its proud record of service to Canada is stamped on our history.

 

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Prince of Wales Armouries Heritage Centre
10440 - 108 Ave, Edmonton