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Minister of National Defence Harjit S. Sajjan, and Veterans Affairs Minister and Associate Minister of National Defence Kent Hehr, issued the following statement:
“Today marks the 11th annual Air Force Day on Parliament Hill. Along with our fellow Parliamentarians, we are honoured to show our appreciation to the airwomen and airmen of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) for their outstanding service and dedication to Canada.
“This year’s event holds great significance as we celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday. Since the First World War, Canadian airwomen and airmen have been woven into the fabric of our great nation, and have had a significant role in the growth of Canada’s identity as an independent, innovative, and self-determining nation. From wartime service, to former military pilots turned bush pilots opening up the Canadian north, to today’s involvement in coalition operations, the RCAF has proudly participated in building our nation. We find this year’s focus on RCAF members making great achievements in innovation and space particularly fitting, forward-looking, and positively inspiring for all Canadians.
“Your air force is a remarkable team of highly capable professionals. More than 15,000 military personnel, supported by 2,000 civilian personnel, are united in their commitment to guaranteeing Canadian sovereignty and protecting Canadian interests and values, at home and around the world.
“At home, the RCAF protects Canada by monitoring our airspace, maintaining a presence in the North and in remote locations, conducting surveillance along our three-ocean coastline and over our vast territory, protecting our resources, and fulfilling its search and rescue mandate. In partnership with the U.S., the RCAF safeguards North America through the bi-lateral, integrated NORAD command.
“Internationally, the RCAF has repeatedly demonstrated its ability to deploy rapidly, providing flexible and robust air power. The RCAF also provides capabilities that enable the Canadian Armed Forces to support humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, projecting the compassionate strength of our nation with great speed and agility.
“Last month, Canada marked the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, which was pivotal in Canada’s identity as an independent nation. Many may not realize that Canadian airmen, serving with the Royal Flying Corps, were instrumental in setting conditions for the battle’s success by providing key intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance information. This proud legacy is alive and well in today’s RCAF members.
“We are both deeply grateful to our airwomen and airmen, past and present–and their families–for their invaluable contributions, perseverance, and sacrifice. They are most deserving of this special recognition. Please join us in celebrating the professionalism, dedication, and contribution of the members of your Royal Canadian Air Force.”