White Rock’s Walk for Veterans, held Sept. 25 to honour translators, interpreters and cultural advisors in war-zones, was a first for the city.
Nearly 200 people gathered at the White Rock promenade on Sunday morning, to hear speeches from Tyler Whitley (Kweti Sel Kanem) of the Semiahmoo First Nation, White Rock mayor Darryl Walker and Surrey-White Rock MLA Trevor Halford, with Gordie Hogg — longtime Semiahmoo Peninsula politician now running to be Surrey’s mayor — emceeing the event.
South Surrey-White Rock’s MP representative Kerry-Lynne Findlay was not present as she was travelling to Ottawa.
Music was shared by SFN’s Whitley at the start of the day, with the Vancouver Naval Veterans Band playing a few tunes later. Kicking off the walk was a pipe band playing for about 10 minutes and then leading the walk down the waterfront.
The theme of this year’s walk was ‘Leave no one behind’ – spotlighting the work of international translators, interpreters and cultural advisors who assist the Canadian Armed Forces.
“I want to challenge our federal government, at any time we get out of these (countries)… to make darn certain that (the interpreters, translators and cultural advisors) are safe and they come to our country and be a part of our country and not have to stay wherever their home country is and be in danger,” Walker said.
Halford agreed with the mayor’s statement, saying that the people who assist the Canadian Armed Forces overseas are already Canadians, regardless of their official nationality.
Nearing the end of the speeches, Whitley returned to the stage to invite members of the city to the Walk for Reconciliation, taking place on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Friday, Sept. 30 on the promenade.
“Come join us just like how we are today… walk and remember where we are and help build up the elders. The ones who went to the residential schools and the ’60s Scoop survivors — help build up those elders like we’re doing here today, building each and everyone here today. Come stand there, come walk, come put an orange shirt on… honour it,” Whitley said.