As Remembrance Day approaches, many Canadians will be taking time to reflect on the service and sacrifices of the men and women of this country’s Armed Forces.
A new study from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds one-in-four Canadians say they’ll attend a formal service on November 11, while the same number say they might.
And while Canadians come together to remember those who have served, the vast majority (80%) also say that Canada should do more to honour veterans.
Overall, just seven per cent of Canadians say they have an immediate family member in the Armed Forces but more than six-in-ten (62%) say they have had at least one or two conversations with someone who serves, or has served recently, about their experiences.
That said, personal connection and the desire to honour Canada’s Forces does not necessarily mean support for increased defence spending. Indeed, there are deep divisions over the issue. Nearly six-in-ten (57%) say Canada should spend less than the NATO target, two per cent of GDP. A significant minority, 43 per cent, say we should spend at or above that target.
The study also finds the passage of time since the World Wars also means oral history of veterans’ experiences, passed down through the generations, is increasingly lost. Three-in-ten Canadians say they recall having a conversation with a veteran of the First World War. (Canada’s last surviving veteran of that conflict died in 2010).
Stories from the Second World War, however, are more present in the lives of people today: seven-in-ten say they have had conversations with veterans of that war about what they experienced.
Four-in-five Canadians (79%) say that they feel proud when they think about this nation’s Armed Forces, but more than two-in-five (44%) say that they do not think about this part of Canadian society very often.
Asked if they can foresee an international conflict that would compel them to volunteer for military service, 29 per cent of Canadians, and 49 per cent of men between the ages of 18 and 34, say that they can. Half say they cannot envision this.