Pride in our Past

We have much to be proud of in the Central Okanagan. Aesthetically, Mother Nature has blessed us with a bounty of natural riches. Our mountains are adorned with world-class orchards, wineries and ski-hills, while our valleys boast stunning lakes and golf courses. But why does our sense of civic pride seem to begin and end only with our region's natural beauty?

Call me crazy but I'm willing to assume that more people in Veendam, Holland are familiar with Kelowna, BC, than vice versa. To a number of Kelowna residents, Veendam probably conjures up little more than images of the beautiful floral gardens at the mouth of Kelowna's City Park. You know, that area highlighted by a stone cenotaph.

However, in Veendam, that stone cenotaph is representative of something much more.

Veendam is one of Kelowna's sister cities not because of any fascination we might have with wooden clogs or tulips, but rather because of a fraternal bond that formed at the conclusion of World War 2. Originating from Vernon, BC, the British Columbia Dragoons were a valiant local Military Regiment that engaged in combat during both World Wars. As the conclusion of the Second World War drew near their skill, determination, and bravery became increasingly apparent. Following the end of a successful Italian campaign, the Dragoons made their way up through North-West Europe - a campaign culminating in a final battle at Delfzijl Pocket. Less than a week after the Canadian victory, the Germans gave up their occupation of the Netherlands and Holland was liberated.

Following the end of the war, the BC Dragoons were stationed in Gemeente Veendam with the responsibility of preventing a German uprising. They waited nine months to return home, in which time the members of the BC Dragoon's lived and stayed with many families of Veendam. A strong relationship was established under the leadership of our Commanding Officer from Kelowna, the late LCol Harry H. Angle, DSO ED MID.

To this day, the Dutch remain eternally grateful to Canada for its vigilance and heroism in the face of unimaginable oppression and evil. One needs only to partake in the Ottawa's annual Canadian Tulip Festival to be cognizant of this. Yet, we as Canadians do not seem to be the historically sentient society our European brethren are. While Canadian soil was never occupied by German or Italian troops, it still was the birthing ground to - proportionally speaking - World War 1 and 2's most efficient, dedicated, and
active military force. We should take pride in their sacrifices everyday, not just every November 11th.

Recently, the Kelowna-Veendam Sister City Association decided it was necessary to upgrade the Cenotaph in City Park. Currently the Veendam Gardens Cenotaph only recognizes those that gave their lives in WWI, while a nearby arbour recognizes the contributions of local soldiers in WWII. Sadly, some of the names of our local fallen are missing or misspelled. The upgrade seeks to amend these errors by incorporating a central monument symbolizing the two world wars, Korean War and peacekeeping operations that honours all of Canada's veterans. The landscape around the cenotaph will be enhanced and a plaza with elevated pathways will be installed.

Geography has afforded us the opportunity to be incredibly proud of where we live, but our military history affords us the opportunity to take pride in where we come from. Currently, the Cenotaph Upgrade Project is a little short of its fundraising goals and I encourage the community to get behind this project. Not only will its completion augment the beauty of City Park, but it will also pay due reverence to a generation that helped turn Canada from a colony to a nation. And that is just one more thing that I think all citizens of Kelowna-Lake Country can all take pride in.

For more information on the Kelowna Cenotaph Upgrade Project please contact Art Brown at 769-3024.

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About the Author

The Honourable Ron Cannan was first elected as Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country in January, 2006. He was subsequently elected in the 2008 and 2011 federal elections. He is a member of the Conservative Caucus.

On September 13th, 2012 Ron was summoned to be a member of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and will provide advice to the Government as a member of the Priorities and Planning Sub-Committee on Government Administration.

Ron successfully uses his experience and knowledge as a long-time Kelowna City Councillor and regional government representative to be an effective and enthusiastic champion for his riding and his constituents.

His greatest satisfaction comes from helping local organizations and citizens obtain the support they require from Ottawa. 

He is also dedicated to doing what it takes to ensure that the growing and vibrant communities in his riding continue to thrive and prosper.

He is proud of the partnership and cooperation between federal, provincial and municipal governments which have resulted in significant infrastructure projects including upgrades to Highway 97, expansion of the Kelowna International Airport, a new horticulture strategy for fruit growers, obtaining a full service passport office for Kelowna and addressing critical economic issues such as labour skills shortages.

He works closely with the local Chambers of Commerce and once a year arranges meetings for the Chamber with Cabinet Ministers and senior policy staff in Ottawa to move forward important local issues such as crime prevention and labour skills shortages.

He is also an ardent champion for important community initiatives including homelessness, mental health, women’s resources, and support of arts and culture.

On Parliament Hill, Ron has been a member of the Standing Committee on International Trade since 2006 supporting initiatives which will broaden the economic opportunities for local businesses and businesses Canada-wide.

In previous parliamentary sessions Ron has been a member of the Standing Committee for Government Operations and Estimates, Veteran’s Affairs, Human Resources and Social Development, the Scrutiny of Regulations Committee, and the Standing Committee for Fisheries and Oceans.

Ron is also involved in a variety of inter-parliamentary organizations: he is Vice Chair of the Canada-US Inter-Parliamentary Group, and a member of the Canada-Taiwan Friendship group.

As Chair of the Conservative Wine Caucus, Ron works with his colleagues across the country to promote the wine regions of Canada.  Ron tabled Motion 218(formerly Motion 601) which supports direct to consumer purchasing of Canadian wine. His motion became Bill C-311, sponsored by MP Dan Albas, seconded by Ron, which was passed into law on June 28th, 2012.

Prior to entering politics, Ron developed a diverse business background as a small business owner and had several years experience in marketing and sales management working with corporations including Coca-Cola, Costco and Corus Entertainment.

Very active in his community, Ron has been a Director for both the Central Okanagan Regional District and the Central Okanagan Hospital Board. Ron also served on the Okanagan University College Access to Training Advisory Board, the Glenmore Elementary School Parents Advisory Council, and the Kelowna Christian School Fund Raising Committee. He was co-founder of the Okanagan Volunteer Festival. Currently Ron is a member of the Sunrise Rotary Club of Kelowna and, along with his wife Cindy, was the honorary Chair of the 2012 Canadian Cancer Society Daffodil Ball.

Ron lives a family-oriented and active lifestyle with his wife Cindy. He is the proud father of three daughters and grandfather to three grandsons. His hobbies include music and sports.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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