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CAF Participate in 2015 Nijmegen Marches

A Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) contingent is heading to the Netherlands from July 21 to 24 for the 99th annual International Four Day Marches Nijmegen.

The 2015 marchers will be marching July 21 to 24 where they will commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands from Nazi occupation.

“The Canadian Armed Forces has participated in the Nijmegen Marches every year since 1952, displaying stamina, teamwork, and honour. This year’s Marches will bear particular significance as members of the Canadian contingent commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands from Nazi occupation. I wish all of our participating members well as they honour those Canadians who fought and died during the Second World War to liberate the same streets and countryside across which the contingent will march,” said General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff.

The Nijmegen Marches consists of four days of marching through the countryside and crowded streets of towns and villages in the Nijmegen area.

The Marches are neither competitive nor a speed test, but they do require proper training and a good team spirit to ensure success. It is the team that finishes with spirit and style that wins the hearts of the crowd.

Canadian participation in is an annual tradition that began in 1952. Physically and mentally strong, the Canadian contingent is representative of the whole of the CAF. Each military participant marches a total of 160 kilometres while wearing standard combat clothing and carrying a military backpack weighing at least 10 kilograms.

Colonel Kristiana Stevens will lead the CAF contingent that will also play a role in commemorating the 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands from Nazi occupation.

The Canadian contingent is broken down into fourteen teams, with each team consisting of eleven personnel. Teams are made up of both Regular and Reserve Force members of all ranks and occupations from across the country. During the months of training required to be selected for the Canadian contingent, candidates test both their physical and mental stamina by marching an average of 700 to 1000 kilometres in combat dress with weighted packs.

“This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands by Canadian troops during the Second World War. The bravery and sacrifice shown by these troops is why I am so proud to march alongside the Canadian Armed Forces contingent in the 2015 Nijmegen Marches. Commemorating those who went before us in the defence of our freedom, our values, and our way of life serves as a reminder of the important ideals by which we should measure our present-day actions as Canadians,” said Colonel Kristiana Stevens, Commander, Joint Task Force Nijmegen.

Canada continues to share a close relationship with the Netherlands as a result of the historical Liberation of the Netherlands, which has not been forgotten by either of countries.

The Nijmegen Marches originated in 1909 with Dutch military efforts to increase the long-distance marching and weight-carrying ability of infantry soldiers.

It has evolved into an international event drawing over 45 000 civilian and military participants from over 50 nations, as well as over a million spectators. Coincidentally, Nijmegen was also the area from which the Canadian Army conducted its operations throughout the last six months of the Second World War.

During the Marches, participants will also pay their respects at the Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery, the final resting place of more than 2 300 Canadian soldiers and aviators who died fighting to liberate the Netherlands in 1944 and 1945.

To learn more about the Nijmegen Marches and who is participating in 2015 please visit the Government of Canada website.

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Vicki L Morrison

Thanks to her husband's military career Vicki reinvented herself as a writer so she could work from home, while taking care of their three kids. A former MFRC executive director Vicki is a passionate advocate for military families who loves telling their stories.

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