Walk for Veterans takes its mission nationwide
Published Sunday, June 3, 2018 4:23PM PDT
Last Updated Sunday, June 3, 2018 6:36PM PDT
There were as many reasons for marching in the Equitas Society’s Canadian Walk for Veterans on Sunday as there are men and women who have served in this country’s armed forces.
The event was first held in Burnaby last October. On Sunday, it expanded to seven cities across Canada - the first nationwide iteration of what the organizers hope will become an annual gathering of Canadian veterans and an annual opportunity for civilians to learn more about them.
“This was a perfect opportunity for all veterans from all engagements, all across the country to get together and share their stories,” said Paul Smith, a member the Equitas Society’s board of directors. “And an opportunity for regular Canadians, members of the public, to get out and walk with veterans and hear their stories.”
Beyond the camaraderie, the march also serves as a political demonstration. The Equitas Society exists, in part, to cover the expenses of an ongoing class-action lawsuit being brought by Canadian veterans against the federal government. The suit’s ultimate goal is to restore the right of Canadian veterans to lifelong pensions, something the government ceased providing in 2005.
Don Sorochan is one of the lawyers handling the lawsuit. He told CTV News his firm is working pro bono, but that there are still material costs associated with bringing the case, which the society pays. The society’s funds also ensure that if the veterans bringing the lawsuit ultimately lose, they won’t have to pay court costs out of their own pockets.
For Sorochan, this issue is personal. One of the representative plaintiffs in the case grew up in a house across the street from Sorochan’s.
“He got seriously injured over there and got a pittance for a very serious injury,” Sorochan said. “I didn’t see any way that this was going to be solved by normal processes.”
The dual-purpose nature of Sunday’s walk - with its focus both on bringing veterans and civilians together and on increasing awareness of and support for the society’s work - reflects the myriad challenges Canada’s veterans face, according to Equitas Society president Marc Burchell.
“Canadians have a social covenant - or what we refer to as a military covenant - which is a responsibility to Canada’s veterans,” Burchell said. “They face any number of issues beyond what Equitas is focusing on ... There’s a multitude of challenges that they face and largely, most of them, are due to the bureaucracies of government.”
Events like Sunday’s can help to facilitate action on a variety of these issues, he said.
“Part of the solution over and above our court case is to bring veterans together, unite them with one common voice, and bring Canadians in on the conversation,” Burchall said. “This is a way to bring veterans and Canadians together and tell the government of Canada: ‘What you’re doing is not adequate and you need to do better.’”