No living Hong Kong Vets attending gala in their honour
Published Saturday, October 22, 2011 5:28PM CST
Nearly 2,000 Canadian Soldiers were sent to defend Hong Kong during the Second World War. They were captured by the Japanese and spent four years as prisoners of war.
Juliet LaFortune says her father, Marcien, was one of the soldiers doing hard labour in the prisoner camp.
"I know he starved. He went through bamboo tortures and was hit on the head with a bat," says LaFortune.
Her father was one of the few who survived and returned home, but was never given a hero's welcome.
"It was a suicide mission, none of them were to return," says LaFortune. "We were an embarrassment and that's why it was never spoken about."
LaFortune says the Canadian government has only recently started honouring the Hong Kong soliders, but friends and family were paying tribute long before that.
For the past 66 years an annual gala has been held to support the veterans and help them cope with the effects after the war.
Now, there are only 8 Hong Kong veterans left in Manitoba. This year none of them are attending the gala because of old age and health issues. Because of that, this will be the last gala held in Winnipeg in their honour.
"They're all too old now, they can't participate," says LaFortune. "They are never to be forgotten."
With less than 60 across vets left across Canada, families are determined to keep their stories alive. A national convention put on by the Hong Kong Veterans Commemorative Association will be held in Winnipeg in 2013.
- with a report from CTV's Karen Rocznik