OTTAWA — The federal government marked the 70th anniversary of the end of the Korean War last week.
Officials say an armistice to cease active fighting in the Korean peninsula was signed on July 27, 1953, putting an end to the three years of war that saw more than 26,000 Canadians serve overseas.
“When the Korean War began 73 years ago, Canada joined 18 other United Nations allies to answer the call to defend freedom in South Korea,” said Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Canada’s minister of Veterans Affairs and associate minister of National Defence.
“In the 70 years since the armistice was signed, the people of South Korea have not forgotten the thousands of Canadians who put their lives on hold for them. Nor have any of us in Canada. We are indebted to them for their courage, honour and sacrifice.”
The Korean War began in June 1950 after communist forces from North Korea crossed into what is now known as South Korea. As part of the United Nations, Canada joined a multinational force to repel attacks and re-establish security.
Ottawa says 516 Canadians had died, and 16 went missing, by the time war ended.
“Today, we honour the 516 Canadians who gave their lives in service to their country during the Korean War, and the thousands more who returned but who were forever changed,” said National Defence Minister Bill Blair.
“We honour the military families who supported them in their valiant efforts to defend peace and democracy, and we keep close the names of the 16 Canadian Army soldiers who went missing during the conflict.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the war left a permanent mark on Canada and shaped a lasting bond with South Korea. He said 7,000 Canadian troops stayed in Korea until 1957 to help deter possible aggression.
“Our strong history of shared values and priorities – like defending democracy and standing up for human rights – serves as the foundation for our friendship and deep, growing economic ties,” he said.
“On behalf of all Canadians, I extend my deepest gratitude to our Korean War veterans … We continue to be inspired by you as we build a more peaceful and more democratic world.”