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Rick Hansen to host Day of Honour for Canada’s role in Afghan war

Rick Hansen.

Jimmy Jeong/

Athlete Rick Hansen will host a multimillion-dollar National Day of Honour May 9 to commemorate Canada's sacrifice and contribution to the war in Afghanistan.

The 12-year military engagement cost the lives of 158 Canadian soldiers, one diplomat, one journalist and two civilian contractors. The Canadian government is estimated to have spent upwards of $11-billion on the conflict.

The focus of the celebrations will be Parliament Hill, although cities across Canada are being encouraged to hold their own ceremonies.

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The May 9 event will begin with a parade from the Canadian War Museum to Parliament Hill. It will be followed by two minutes of silence, a fly-by salute and public viewing of the Afghanistan Memorial Vigil in Centre Block's Hall of Honour. The memorial is a series of plaques represented Canadians who died there as well as fallen U.S. soldiers under Canadian command.

Families of Canadians who died in Afghanistan are being invited to attend, and their travel bills will be covered, the government said.

Representatives from Canadian military units who served in Afghanistan will also attend.

"Over the course of 12 years in Afghanistan more than 40,000 members of the Canadian Armed Forces served there, fighting insurgents, along with hundreds of Canadian civilians who worked on development projects." Canadians "worked to defeat terrorism and give Afghans a chance at a better future," the Prime Minister's Office said.

"Canada played a central role in Afghanistan for more than a decade," Mr. Harper said.

"With Canada's help, thousands of members of the Afghan National Security Forces have been trained, hundreds of kilometres of roads have been built or repaired, dozens of schools have been restored, thousands of teachers trained, and millions of children have been vaccinated against diseases like polio," the Prime Minister said.

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