May 15, 2017

Mr. Ernie Hardeman: I’m pleased to rise today to celebrate Dutch Heritage Month. I want to recognize the consul general of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Anne van Leeuwen, and all of the people who are here at Queen’s Park for this important occasion.

It is in this month that we recognize the important contributions that Dutch Canadians have made to the economic, political, social and cultural development of Ontario society. May is historically significant for the Dutch Canadian community. Every year on May 5, the Netherlands celebrates Liberation Day. It’s a celebration of freedom and all of those who put their lives on the line to help a nation, freeing them from oppression.

I remember my mother’s stories about liberation. The efforts of those Canadian soldiers are the reason my father later came to Canada and the reason why Canada and the Netherlands have such a strong friendship to this day.

The people of the Netherlands have not forgotten the sacrifices of our soldiers, and neither should we. Though this was not a battle on our home front, the impact that our veterans made must be remembered and celebrated. As Canadians, we must strive to keep the memory of these heroes’ sacrifices alive. We must continue to celebrate Holland’s liberation and take pride in our veterans’ victories and their lives.

As a Dutch Canadian and a person born liberated because of their efforts, I want to say to those veterans: Thank you. We will always be indebted to you and it is because of you that we are celebrating today.