Afghanistan memorial back in Canada
A memorial cairn to mark Canadian deaths in Afghanistan is back in Canada, and installed at an air force museum in Trenton, Ont.
Defence Minister Peter MacKay unveiled the monument Wednesday. Since 2006 it had been at Camp Mirage, the former base in the United Arab Emirates that served as a transit point and staging base for Canadians going into Afghanistan.
The monument is a three-part, pyramid-like granite structure, according to a release from MacKay's office, which is installed in a way that recreates its placement at Camp Mirage. Its old home was outdoors on a concrete platform surrounded by a perimeter of grass and stone tiles. Brass plates show the names of all the fallen, and a bronze casting of the bas-relief Fallen, created by Canadian artist Silvia Pecota, adorns the monument.
"The monument served as a place where personnel from Camp Mirage could gather to honour, remember, and grieve our fallen," MacKay said in the statement. "There is no doubt that Trenton has an intimate connection to our military. The monument is now fittingly displayed at the National Air Force Museum of Canada where it will be for us, and for future generations, to remember the sacrifices of some of the bravest Canadians."
The Canadian Forces will continue to update the memorial to reflect the complete list of fallen Canadians.
Canada's casualties over the course of the Afghan mission includes 157 soldiers, one diplomat, one journalist and two aid workers.
Tuesday marked the official end to the combat mission, with the commander of the Royal 22nd Regiment signing transfer of authority papers with a U.S. commander.
Canada was forced to close Camp Mirage when the UAE kicked out the Canadian Forces in the midst of a dispute over commercial landing rights for Emirates Air in Canada.