Unique bill ensures Canadians honour Korean War Veterans on July 27, forever

Senator Yonah Martin

Senator Yonah Martin

“I owe my life to all those who served and sacrificed in the Korean War,” said Senator Yonah Martin. “The passage of this Bill is one more way of ensuring that future generations remember and honour the sacrifices made by our Canadian Veterans.”

In the spirit of MilSuccessNet’s “HUA” mission, we Hear, Understand and Acknowledge the work behind Canada’s enacting of the Korean War Veteran’s Day, observed annually on July 27.

In 2013, a praiseworthy cooperation across party lines and agendas in the Government of Canada, made it so! Royal Assent of Bill S-213: An Act Respecting a National Day of Remembrance in Honour of Veterans of the Korean War enacted the day. 

“It is the first War Veteran Act of its kind in the world outside the USA. The importance of this is that the government of the day will be forever obligated to honour the contribution and existence of Canada’s veterans who served during the Korean War,” said Senator Martin during an interview a year ago with MilSuccessNet.

Speaking with veterans at KVA AGM 2014

Speaking with veterans at KVA AGM 2014

2014 marks the 2nd annual celebration of the contribution of Canadian men and women in uniform who came to the aid of South Koreans during the Korean War. It ensures that their service and sacrifices are never forgotten.


So, first..  to the Veterans and their contributions in Korea….

 Read on and also find out:

  • Backgrounder on Canada’s contribution in Korea – a war that seemed to be slipping out of modern memory of it
  • About the young, female 1st ever Canadian of Korean descent who serves in the Senate of Canada making her the 1st Korean-Canadian Parliamentarian also in the country’s history

After many tries to find a time to discuss our mutual interest in the condition of veterans, I had the great pleasure of speaking with Yonah Martin last year. Our interview was framed in that Canadian, just in case let’s be cautious way. In almost hushed tones, so that fate’s feathers would not be ruffled, Senator Martin and I spoke. The bill was rounding the last phase and loping into home base and official recognition and approval.

In Canada, this means it had gone through a second government hearing with the 3rd pending. Senator Martin reminded me that this meant it was years in the making. From the Senate to our House of Commons, it passed at each reading and was now on its 3rd and final reading.

The Sentaor and I had met on several occasions over the years at community functions in Vancouver. She divides her time and energies, however, to care for her home constituency and office in British Columbia and her Senate duties. The commute is a 6 hour per direction flight to Ottawa, Ontario.

Summary of the war-time service she was seeking to honour:

Yonah Martin and the KVA members Celebrating the passage of Bill S-213 (Korean War Veterans Day Act

Celebrating the passage of Bill S-213 Korean War Veterans Day Act with KVA members

The Korean Veterans Association website carries current information from the Veterans themselves. They supported this bill and were part of the process.

Member of Parliament (MP),  Blaine Calkins from Westaskiwin, Alberta sponsored the bill. He had multiple strong veteran connections including: Corporal James Alvin Calkins, who at age 25 was the second Albertan to die in the Korean War. He died of battle wounds. He had served with the Lord Strathcona’s Horse  and was a member of C Company, who had also trained with the Princess Patricias in Ft. Lewis, Washington.

MP Calkins rose in the house (2013)  to say: “This is why I am here. As we mark the 60th anniversary of the Armistice and the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations with the Republic of Korea, Korean War Veterans Day will serve as a lasting reminder of the significant role Canadians played in the Korean War.”

The Korean War began on June 25, 1950, and the active fighting ended on July 27, 1953, with the signing of the Korea Armistice Agreement. Approximately 7,000 Canadians continued to serve in the tense theatre of operations between the signing of the Armistice and the end of 1955, with some Canadian troops remaining until 1957.



Almost 27,000 Canadians deployed to Korea, including sailors on 8 destroyers and aviators who flew combat and transport missions. From these, 516 Canadians gave their lives in service during the war. This number includes the nearly 400 who lie at rest in the Republic of Korea. Their names are inscribed in the Korean War Book of Remembrance, which is on display in the Peace Tower’s Memorial Chamber in Ottawa.



Basic timeline:

At end of WW 2 Soviet Union occupies North Korea while Americans move into South Korea

  • By June 25, 1951 tensions between the now communist government in the North and democratic one in the South result in war with the North Koreans crossing the 38th parallel into the south.
  • Newly formed U.N. enters its first armed intervention with 16 members, including Canada contributing military forces under the USA’s command
  • Early July 1951 ceasefire negotiations begin
  • 1953, peace is finally restored in the Korean Peninsula with signing of Armistcie on July 27
  • More in depth information on the Korean War visit.

 About Yonah Martin from immigrant to activist 

I know Yonah Martin to be a warm, informed, active community member and hard working advocate representative from BC. She is exceptionally inclusive in her approach to our diverse west coast culture. But that’s my opinion. You can read the basis for it in these notes selected from her official biography page:

Commemorating the Korean War in July of 2014

Commemorating the Korean War in July of 2014

Korean born, naturalized Canadian..Yonah Martin (born April 11, 1965) is a Conservative Senator from British Columbia (Our word highlighter colour was originally red, but we changed it as blue is the ‘team’ colour of the Conservative Party of Canada)

She was appointed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper on January 2009, and . Appointed Deputy Government Whip in the Senate, June 2011. In 2013 September, she was appointed Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate. Yonah Martin graduated from the University of British Columbia in 1987; earned a Master of Education in 1996; and enjoyed a 21-year career as an educator right up until her Senate appointment in 2009.

Born in Seoul, Korea, Yonah Martin immigrated to Canada with her family in 1972, settling in Vancouver. With deep roots in both Korean and Canadian heritage, she became a community activist and voice of authority for the new generation of Canadians of Korean descent.

Inspired by her Canadian-born daughter and immigrant parents, and with a desire to “bridge communities”, she co-founded a non-profit organization, the C3 Society in 2003.

For more information visit veterans.gc.ca. and for more on the Korean War

Commemorating the Korean War in 2014

Commemorating the Korean War in 2014


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