Sept. 11 to be 'national day of service' in Canada

The federal government announced Friday that Sept. 11 will become a "national day of service" to inspire Canadians to show the kind of compassion and generosity that were in abundance following the attacks of 10 years ago.
In this Sept. 2001 photo provided by Beth Wakefield, she and her newly adopted daughter, centre, rest at the local Lions Club in Gander, Nfld. They were among the 6,700 passengers who were diverted to Gander on Sept. 11, 2001. (Courtesy Beth Wakefield/Associated Press)

Sept. 11 will become a "national day of service" to inspire Canadians to show the kind of compassion and generosity that were in abundance following the attacks of 10 years ago, the federal government announced Friday.

Julian Fantino, who was a police officer at the time and is now the associate minister of national defence, said Canadians responded to the horrible event with kindness and courage.

"And in the days and weeks that followed, our police officers, firefighters and first responders joined hands with all Canadians to show our true character – and the best in one other – to help our American friends," Fantino said.

"The many acts of generosity demonstrated by Canadians from coast to coast on September 11, 2001, and afterwards will serve to remind us all the importance of humanity – nor will the assistance provided by communities, provincial governments, businesses in our communities, social services and voluntary agencies be forgotten."

An official in the prime minister's office said before the announcement that it's important to remember the "incredible acts of courage, sacrifice and kindness by Canadians on and following that infamous day." 

As an example, the official's remarks cited the efforts of the people of Gander, N.L., who hosted thousands of foreign airline passengers who had been re-routed to Canadian soil following the grounding of passenger flights in the days following Sept. 11, 2001.

The day of service is also meant to honour the "selfless service of civilian and military volunteers who continue to stand up in the face of terrorism; and the outpouring of Canadian support in the aftermath of the attacks."

The national day of service will be marked every Sept. 11. The PMO official said the government's hope is that the designation "will inspire Canadians to once more show the same kind of compassion to strangers in need, by engaging on that day in charitable activities, fundraisers and community service for worthy causes across the country."

"It is a fitting way to pay tribute to the Canadians and others who were lost in 9/11, to show continued support for the families of victims, to honour the sacrifices made by those who served in the rescue efforts, and to turn an infamous date into a day of hope marked by a communal outpouring of warmth and generosity."