Why don't cenotaphs include the Afghanistan war?

Halifax has named its new ferry after a soldier who died serving in Afghanistan, but some are wondering why the city's cenotaph doesn't mention the conflict.

Ferry named for Christopher Stannix, but conflict not on memorial

Halifax's cenotaph includes some wars, but not all. (CBC)

Halifax has named its new ferry after a soldier who died serving in Afghanistan, but some are wondering why the city's cenotaph doesn't mention the conflict.

Citizens chose to name the Halifax to Woodside ferry boat for Christopher Stannix, a Halifax soldier who died in action in 2007. He was one of 16 Nova Scotians who died in Canada's 10-year involvement with Afghanistan.

But the war in Afghanistan isn't mentioned on the cenotaph at Grand Parade — the location of the city's largest Remembrance Day service.

Peter Stoffer, the MP for Sackville-Eastern Shore and New Democrat critic for Veterans Affairs, wants to add a phrase to all cenotaphs that would include all actions where Canadians served and died.

"We've had other wars and conflicts as well. We lost 158 in Afghanistan, but we lost over 200 in the [Boer War] in South Africa and we haven't put that on the cenotaph as well,” he said.

The Boer War was a conflict in South Africa between the British and Dutch from 1899 to 1902. Canada helped Britain.

We're hopeful that something will happen this year.- Peter Stoffer, Veterans Affairs critic

Stoffer said he's been working with the government of Canada for four years to add a phrase that would encompass the many conflicts where Canada has lost soldiers.

He cited military actions in places such as Bosnia, Syria in 1974, Rwanda and East Timor. A broader wording would not exclude other conflicts, but wouldn't require each one to be included. 

"[I want] to try to get the words 'in the service of Canada' imprinted on all the cenotaphs across the country, including our national cenotaph in Ottawa, to be more inclusive," he said.

"We're hopeful that something will happen this year because of not only the significance of the anniversary of the First World War, but the fact that we're ending our Afghanistan effort as well."

The new phrasing would also include future conflicts, he said. 

Neither the Halifax Regional Municipality nor the premier’s office have commented on whether the Afghanistan war will be included on the cenotaph. The Department of National Defence referred questions to Veterans Affairs.

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