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'We still exist': Alberta veterans reflect on lives lost, pandemic, world events


Alberta veterans hope the purpose of Remembrance Day is not forgotten, as we approach the second Remembrance Day of the pandemic.

CTV News interviewed 11 veterans for a special series, entitled "11 Days of Remembrance."

Each day between Nov. 1 and 11, we hear from a different vet, as they reflect on their service and the events of the past year.

The veterans share their thoughts on why they served with the Canadian Armed Forces and will touch on a number of subjects including how COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns have affected their lives, how the strife in Afghanistan affected their mental health, and how Canadians can help veterans in need.

"It was very sad. Probably unnerving, some of it, and hard to watch," said Joseph MacAulay, who served in the armed forces for 27 years, when asked about how the Taliban takeover and the refugee crisis in Afghanistan affected him.

11 Days of Remembrance: Joseph MacAulay

"We still exist with the pandemic having lessened, cancelled and reduced Remembrance Day ceremonies as such," said Sgt. Bruce Given (Ret.'d). "Anytime you see or know of a veteran, it'd be nice to get acknowledged as such."

11 Days of Remembrance: Sgt. Bruce Given (Ret.’d)

All the veterans we talked to agree on one thing: the purpose of Remembrance Day is to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving their country.

"Remembrance Day gives me a chance to look back over the years, the friends that I've lost, that I served with, in different parts of this world, and guys that were lost in Afghanistan," said Capt. Chuck Hills (Ret.'d), who served on eight United Nations peacekeeping tours.

11 Days of Remembrance: Capt. Chuck Hills (Ret.’d)

"What I would like to do is ask Canadians to think of their family members, their friends, past and present, who served to protect our freedoms and keep us safe," said Sgt. Maxine McKellar (Ret.'d), who was an aircraft structures technician in the Canadian Forces from 1976 to 2001.

11 Days of Remembrance: Sgt. Maxine McKellar (Ret.’d)

The Veterans Association Food Banks of Calgary and Edmonton helped arrange the interviews with the veterans. The group includes younger and older veterans who served in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Croatia, Germany, Haiti, Norway, Iraq, the Golan Heights, Sierra Leone, on the high seas across the globe, and across Canada.

The group includes two female vets and an Indigenous vet.  They all share unique stories about their careers, and how their lives have been transformed by their service.

Watch this page daily for the latest installment of "11 Days of Remembrance." The series will air on CTV Morning Live and CTV News at 6, each day, from Nov. 1 to 11. Top Stories

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