Roxanne Tellier – Remembrance Day

Roxanne DBAWIS

My dad was a Korean vet. He met my mum through her brother, with whom he served in the famous Van Doos (the Royal 22nd Regiment.) He was from Alberta, and she from Quebec. It’s unlikely they would have ever met if it hadn’t been for the war. They married a few weeks after attending my Uncle Leo’s wedding, and I was born nine months later.

james remembrance poppy6I don’t know a lot about dad’s time in Korea; like most vets I’ve encountered, he rarely spoke of it, and when he did, it was usually drunken reminiscing about carousing with the locals. But I do know that he was a hard man to live with; quick to temper, quick with his fists, and unable to settle down physically or mentally.  I learned many years later that he’d been exposed to Agent Orange during his military training. Whether that exposure or his war experiences created the man I grew up with, I’ll never know.

There were always guns in my house, in Alberta, and later in Montreal. He and my western uncles liked to target shoot. One of dad’s party tricks was to have me hold a packet of matches in the air, which he would then shoot out of my tiny hands. Luckily, he was a good shot.


I don’t think dad ever stopped thinking like a combat soldier. I was just a kid during the Cuban Missile Crisis. My dad immediately began stockpiling supplies, ready for battle. And when the Vietnam War started, my dad, now in his forties, tried to enlist. Both Canada and the United States turned him down.

Tom Waits Hell Broke Luce

It’s been a long time since Canadians have had to think about the effects of war on our soil. Our young men still enlist, and go off to war in far flung countries, and yes, many die. But our soldiers choose to enlist, and to represent Canada as peace keepers. We suffer no deprivations, no rationing of food, and no legal or social pressure on our youth to sacrifice their futures in defence of their land. We don’t wake up every day to lists of the dead or wounded. We have no idea of what it would be like to live daily with the horrors of Canadian engagement in a World War.

And that’s something for which we should be both grateful and proud.

When Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was shot to death at the National War Memorial in Ottawa the morning of October 22, the media rushed to rattle sabres, and to predict that this was a call to arms against ISIS terrorists. Prime Minister Stephen Harper would have no choice but to join the United States against Iraq. Within days, Canada’s involvement in the war against Islamic State militants began in earnest when two CF-18 warplanes dropped laser-guided bombs in the vicinity of Fallujah, west of Baghdad.

But despite cries of war and kneejerk reactions by pundits and the fearful on social media, Canadians overall were not convinced that Canada should take an aggressive stance. We are not a country given to attacks based on revenge or bluffing bravado. We value our country over political agendas. We have learned from history, and have no desire to repeat it.

(For more background on the events of October 22nd, I would suggest this article, published November 5th.

91 year old Harry Leslie Smith remembers history; he was there. And he has had it with governments that romanticize war.

“This year, I will wear a poppy for the last time. I will remember friends and comrades in private next year, as the solemnity of remembrance has been twisted into a justification for conflict… but I will until my last breath remember the past and the struggles my generation made to build this country into a civilised state for the working and middle classes. If we are to survive as a progressive nation we have to start tending to our living because the wounded: our poor, our underemployed youth, our hard-pressed middle class and our struggling seniors shouldn’t be left to die on the battleground of modern life.”

It’s a fascinating article from an articulate gentleman who was really there. Downton Abbey is a fictionalized version of England in wartime … and it’s nothing like the reality. Do yourself a favour and read this man’s thoughts.

white poppies

The No Glory in War foundation advocates the wearing of a white poppy for peace in remembrance of those who died in war. Demand has been so high for this item that they have run out, and are unable to get a further supply.

But I did not come here to bury Remembrance Day, but rather to honour all who have suffered the horrors of war – man, woman or beast.  Remembering animals and humans in war:

This moody vocal jazz reminiscent of Gregorian chants comes courtesy of Facebook friend Bruce Cassidy. “In honour of all those who have died in the horrors of war, here is an arrangement of Alfred Lord Tennyson’s great poem; “Blow, Bugle, Blow. I produced this while living in South Africa with the A team of session players and vocalists. Music: Bruce Cassidy – poem: Alfred Lord Tennyson “

I made this collage slideshow for friend James Sloan, who performs this song every year for the veterans of East York.  Remember Them Well

Thanks to Helen Dreyer for pointing me to this lovely song. “Multiple-award-winning singer/songwriter and Billboard Chart topping artist, Ryan Kelly, shares And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda. A song written by Eric Bogle that gives us the poignant story of a man’s pre/post war experiences and serves as a vivid reminder to us all about the sacrifices many men and women have made throughout history to pay the price for peace.”

My cousin Kieron Donovan sent along this link and message: “I find this one very moving as well. The Flowers of the Forest. “The traditional lament for the fallen in forces of the British Commonwealth, sung by Isla St.Clair with the pipes over images of ‘home’, war, and the repatriation of British, Canadian and Australian soldiers.”

I live just down the street from the 401, the highway that is used to transport the more than 150 Canadian casualties that were flown home from Afghanistan and driven to their final resting place.

“No one told them to do it. People just started showing up in small groups, some saluting, others draping the Canadian flag over the edge of a bridge. Lining the highway to welcome home fallen soldiers grew organically into a bittersweet tradition in the last decade.

The body of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, who was gunned down Wednesday while on sentry duty in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, took that journey Friday and received the same honour. Thousands lined bridges from Ottawa to Hamilton in recognition of Cirillo’s sacrifice.” (The Toronto Star, Oct. 24, 2014)

Nathan Cirillo

“On August 24, 2007, the portion of the highway between Glen Miller Road in Trenton and the Don Valley Parkway/Highway 404 Junction in Toronto was designated the Highway of Heroes, as the road is travelled by funeral convoys for fallen Canadian Forces personnel from CFB Trenton to the coroner’s office in Toronto. On September 27, 2013, the Highway of Heroes designation was extended west to Keele Street in Toronto, to coincide with the move of the coroner’s office to the new Forensic Services and Coroner’s Complex at the Humber River Hospital.” (Wikipedia)

“Highway of Heroes”, was co-written and co-produced by The Trews and Gordie Johnson (Big Sugar) and was inspired by the 2006 death of Captain Nichola Goddard from The Trews’ hometown of Antigonish, NS. Canada’s Highway of Heroes, is the section of the MacDonald-Cartier freeway named to honour those who have sacrificed all in service of country.”

On November 11, Remembrance Day  …  remember to observe just two minutes of silence at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, for all of those who gave their lives for their countries. Remember the members of the armed forces who have died in the line of duty, so that we could live in peace.

rem troops holding up earth


Roxanne’s column appears here every Sunday 

Contact us at

DBAWIS ButtonRoxanne Tellier has been singing since she was 10 months old … no, really. Not like she’s telling anyone else how to live their lives, because she’s not judgmental, and most 10 month olds need a little more time to figure out how to hold a microphone. She has also been a vocalist with many acts, including Tangents, Lady, Performer, Mambo Jimi, and Delta Tango. In 2013 she co-hosted Bob Segarini’s podcast, The Bobcast, and, along with Bobert, will continue to seek out and destroy the people who cancelled ‘Bunheads’.

3 Responses to “Roxanne Tellier – Remembrance Day”

  1. Thank you Canadian comrades….its unfortunate but sometimes duty to one’s country is called…some answer that call so that the rest of us can live in relative peace and freedom.

  2. Thank you for this wonderful column Roxanne, I waited till today to read it. I especially like the last picture you posted, it speaks volumes.

  3. why do you alays make it personal? you kill me with that stuff

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