This year marks the 100th anniversary of the proclamation of the Independence of Korea. Every year on March 1st, Korean-Canadians and Koreans around the world honour the Independence Movement and remember those who gave their lives in the struggle for a free and prosperous Korea, one built on the ancient Korean philosophy Hongik Ingan to “broadly benefit all humanity.” It is also a day to remember all Koreans who have stood together against tyranny and oppression.

We in Canada must also remember the crucial role of Canadians in the March 1st Movement. Amongst many, one in particular stands out. A Canadian missionary, veterinarian and scholar, Dr. Francis William Schofield secretly distributed copies of a Declaration for Independence in a hospital in Seoul where he taught. He photographed thousands of civilians who came to Seoul’s public park on March 1st, 1919 to listen to 33 brave Korean cultural and religious leaders read that Declaration aloud. For his role in the March Independence Movement, he was recognized as the 34th patriot and buried in Korea’s National Cemetery, the only foreigner to be awarded this honour.

As we commemorate this important anniversary, let us remember also the deep-rooted and longstanding friendship between Canada and Korea which grows with each passing year, a major foundation of which was the sacrifice of so many Canadians who fought, and fell, in defence of Korea’s freedom. May we always remember the price previous generations paid for the freedoms we are able to enjoy today.