I'm alive because of Canadian bravery
Remembering Liberation on November 11
Each year on November 11, I gratefully remember the sacrifice, risk, and bravery of Canadian Forces who fought to liberate Holland.
It’s not difficult to imagine a different future for my family and so many millions of others who trace origins to the Netherlands, but for the courage and tenacity of Canadian soldiers.
They fought what some historians consider the most difficult battle of World War II.1 The push beyond the port of Antwerp to polder country—flat flood lands surrounded by dykes—to cross the river Scheldt was costly, an extensive fight waged most of October 1944 that finally pushed the Germans back and was a critical victory in the long fight for peace in Europe.
More than 7,600 Canadians died in the eight-month campaign to liberate the Netherlands, a tremendous sacrifice in the cause of freedom.2
There were seven more long months after the victory at the Scheldt. The people of Holland nearly starved by the time liberation finally came. When it seemed like the war might never end, when it seemed impossible to go one more day without food, they were finally made free by Canadian Forces on May 5, 1945.
I’ve only imagined the difficulty (explored in my screenplay Delft Blue) and those trying, long days for Dutch families before the unbelievable moment when food parcels started to float magically from the sky.
What a gift, freedom won and freedom given.
Read an exclusive excerpt of Andrew’s critically acclaimed screenplay on Unveil’s Substack.
Living out that freedom, today
My father was born in Canada, a first generation Canadian. The baby born after the family took the boat and immigrated.
For me, freedom is birthright and inheritance. Something born into that has cost me nothing. The price has already been paid and I live, without thought, in liberty.
I may know little of the first-hand sacrifice freedom requires of some, but I have come to understand freedom’s true value by witnessing how the freedoms I experience don’t apply to everyone. Freedoms like the liberty to think, worship, say, believe, do, read what I want, freedoms I exercise daily, aren’t universal.
My window, for instance, into the brutality of human trafficking has shown me the terrible realities faced by victims of child sexual exploitation both in Canada and around the world. Meeting survivors of human trafficking and hearing them share about the incredible new life they know when they are set free and start the journey toward wholeness is the difference between darkness and light, despair and hope.
What my experience writing about trafficking and injustice has taught me, meeting its victims and its survivors, is that freedom is power.
The word peace means freedom from disturbance, freedom from anxiety, quiet. What I know with more certainty now, and what I hope to pass on to my children, is that what we do with that freedom matters even more.
We need to continue to open that door to others.
The word peace means freedom from disturbance, freedom from anxiety, quiet.
Like those brave Canadian soldiers who liberated my grandparents in Holland, my prayer is that my family will use our freedom to continue to liberate others, from whatever darkness or injustice overshadows them.
There are people with such needs in every part of the world. Here in Canada and beyond. May we celebrate our own freedoms by championing it for others.
Veterans Canada notes: At the end of the five-week offensive, the victorious First Canadian Army had taken 41,043 prisoners, but suffered 12,873 casualties (killed, wounded, or missing), 6,367 of whom were Canadians.