The City of London, along with Canada Company, the 31 Canadian Brigade Group, Department of National Defense, The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum, and London Heritage Council, unveiled the newest LAV III Monument, to honour the service and sacrifice of Canadian Armed Forces in peacekeeping missions, including the conflict in Afghanistan.
“This LAVIII monument will serve as a constant reminder of the bravery and selflessness of our service men and women,” said Mayor Matt Brown. “It is just one small thing we can do to acknowledge those who made the ultimate sacrifice for peacekeeping and protecting our freedoms. Thank you to all our partners who worked with the City of London’s Culture Office to make this a reality.”
The monument is part of Canada Company’s LAV III Monument Program, which provides de-militarized replica light-armored vehicles (LAV) to communities across Canada in recognition of 40,000 soldiers who served in Canadian peacekeeping missions, including the conflict in Afghanistan.
“The goal of the LAV III Monument Program is to recognize our modern-day veterans with a modern-day monument which marks the end of the latest chapter in our military legacy,” said Canada Company founder, Blake C. Goldring.
As described by Major-Gen (ret’d) David Fraser, “The LAV III Monument Program commemorates all Canadians who served in Afghanistan and Canadians back home supporting our men and women in-theatre. These monuments will continue to serve as a catalyst for stories about Canada’s contribution to peace and security around the world.”
The London community has significant connections to the LAV Ill Monument Program; The LAV Ills used by the Canadian Army are built by General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) in London. To turn the LAV Ills into monuments, the turrets and hulls have been welded at Militex Coatings, in London, by welding students from Fanshawe College. London is also considered a defense industry hub, with more than 12,000 people employed in the sector at more than 45 defense related London companies. London’s LAVIII Monument is one of 33 approved to be erected across the country.
In October 2006, London mourned a personal loss when Trooper Mark Andrew Wilson was killed at the age of 39 by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan.
Trooper Wilson’s brother, Sean Wilson, says his family sees this monument as a way to “ensure that Mark’s sacrifice, as well as all the brave men and women who sacrificed their lives represented here, will never be forgotten. ‘Their names will liveth for evermore’.
“For us Silver Cross families, the act of Remembrance by our fellow citizens is the greatest tribute to us all,” Sean said. “It is of grave importance that all veterans of Afghanistan, past and present, are recognized. So, we are humbled and thankful."
The ceremony is available for live stream at http://london.streaminginc.com/, and it will be available for future viewing at the same link.
The London Heritage Council (LHC) provided substantial assistance for this project, and the monument will remain in the Wolseley Barracks in the RCR Museum outdoor display area.
Since the project’s pre-approval in May 2016, the City of London and Department of National Defense legal teams have worked together in developing an agreement, which London’s City Council approved and agreed that ongoing maintenance costs will be covered through the City’s Public Art Maintenance Fund and regular lifecycle maintenance program. The RCR Museum will be responsible for the ongoing educational and commemorative programming centered on the Monument.