From 2001 to 2014 more than 40,000 Canadian Armed Forces members served in the Afghanistan theatre of operations. While Canada’s efforts in Afghanistan made a great difference, this effort has come at a great cost to our nation. 158 Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members made the ultimate sacrifice in the cause of peace and freedom in Afghanistan and thousands have been physically and or mentally injured as a result of these operations.
Ontario’s Macdonald-Cartier Freeway, better known as Highway 401, crosses through some of the most densely populated areas in Canada. In 2007, a 170 kilometre portion of the highway stretching from CFB Trenton to the Don Valley Parkway (and later Keele Street) in Toronto was designated the Highway of Heroes, reflecting its use as the route for funeral convoys carrying fallen Canadian Armed Forces service men and women from CFB Trenton to the coroner’s office in Toronto.
While unintentional, the funeral processions brought thousands of ordinary Canadians – often led by our communities First Responders – out to the bridges along the Highway of Heroes to pay their respects to the fallen. No matter how Canadians observed the funeral processions, the experience has woven the Afghanistan mission into the collective fabric of our nation. What’s more, Trenton was also the place where those killed in action from previous conflicts returned to Canadian soil.
The Wounded Warriors Canada Highway of Heroes Ride (HHR) will take a group of Canadians along this sacred stretch of highway to raise funds and awareness in support of those living with operational stress injuries like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The riders will carry forward our charity’s mission to Honour the Fallen and Help the Living – connecting with Ontarian’s along the way as we bring community’s back to the bridges in support of our ill and injured Canadian Armed Forces members, Veterans, First Responders and their families.