October 21, 2017 3:51 pm
Updated: October 21, 2017 6:26 pm

West Island monument honouring veterans, returning soldiers, unveiled

ABOVE: The Trans-Canada Respect Monument was unveiled in Kirkland on Saturday in honour of Canada’s military members and veterans. As Global’s Felicia Parrillo reports, the sculpture was built to highlight the many challenges troops can face upon their return home.

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West Island motorists driving eastbound on Highway 40, will notice something new by the roadside. Between Kirkland and Pointe-Claire, a sculpture now stands tall.

“The monument is a beautiful depiction of a World War II soldier returning home,” said Steve Gregory, former Quebec Chapter Canada Company  president. “The name of the monument is ‘The Return.’ When you look at it you see this relatively happy soldier coming back, but the fact is, the scars of war, of all of our veterans, first or second World War, they persist.”

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Hundreds of people, including politicians, local residents and members of the Canadian Armed Forces, gathered around the Trans-Canada Respect Monument for its official inauguration.

READ MORE: What happens when Canadian military members ask for help?

Those who helped bring it to life say the purpose is to create awareness around the very serious struggles faced by veterans.

“We have people that serve in our behalf that are suffering,” said Doug Bellevue, president of Task Micro Electronics Inc., who helped commission the monument.

“They have post-traumatic stress, their families are getting crippled and ruined, some are homeless on our streets, and many of them are taking their own lives. And I think if someone serves on our behalf, I don’t think we should sit back and let that happen.”

In October of 2011, Bellevue affixed a six-metre Respect Banner on his corporate headquarters along the Trans-Canada Highway in Kirkland.

For Bellevue, the banner was a display of respect for Canadian military personnel and veterans.

Eventually, the banner turned into the Respect Campaign.

READ MORE: A soldier’s story of living with PTSD

In collaboration with the Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services, as well as Canada Company for the corporate banner Campaign, the Respect Campaign commissioned the Respect monument.

The sculpture commemorates and honours the service of the men and women in the Canadian Armed Forces, those we have lost and those who serve today.

READ MORE: At least 54 Canadian military members have committed suicide since 2014

But most importantly, it stands as a symbol of respect for those who continue to suffer long after their duty is done.

“We hope that this becomes an important landmark in the West Island,” Gregory said. “It’s the only one of its kind in the West Island. And we’re in need of this kind of display of support to our troops.”

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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