History in the making for West Indian Second World War Veterans

June 21, 2005

History in the making for West Indian Second World War Veterans at new Canadian War Museum

Ottawa, June 21st, 2005 – More than 60 years after they voluntarily enlisted, 300 West Indian men and women who proudly wore the Canadian uniform will be honoured for their wartime contributions to the Canadian military with a commemorative plaque unveiling at the new Canadian War Museum in Ottawa.

The men and women served in the Canadian Armed Forces, Royal Canadian Air Force and Merchant Navy.

“As one who had the privilege to call Owen Rowe a dear friend, I am delighted that his efforts to ensure our new War Museum highlight the contributions of our WWII West Indian veterans have been successful,” said Marlene Jennings, MP, Notre-Dame-de-Grâce – Lachine, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister (Canada-US Relations). “I was honoured to have actively supported Owen in his advocacy for the recognition and it will be a moment of pride and accomplishment that is also bittersweet because Owen is no longer here to celebrate this day.”

“This is a proud moment for all families and friends of the West Indians veterans who served Canada and the British Commonwealth during the Second World War,” said Kathy Grant, whose father, Owen Rowe, left his home in Barbados in May 1942 to train with the Armed and Air forces in Canada. He obtained the rank of Flying Officer. “My father would have been very proud to know that the contributions of his fellow military brothers and sisters will be forever immortalized.”

“I’m also extremely grateful to the hard work of the volunteer committee and others who helped make this event possible, including Mr. J. (Joe) Geurts, Director and CEO of the Canadian War Museum whose tireless efforts made this day a reality.”

Mr. Rowe passed away on April 16th, 2005. The plaque is a culmination of his efforts to get national and international recognition for the service of these Caribbean Second World War veterans.

Anthony Testa, an acclaimed artist at the Royal Canadian Mint who won a United Nations Award for designing a sculpture entitled Volunteer Rising, also designed the 50th Anniversary commemorative pin honouring the Second World War West Indian veterans, has confirmed his attendance.

The men and women who enlisted and trained in Canada came from nine islands in the Caribbean. Three of them went on to become Prime Ministers in their native countries Milton Cato of St Vincent, Errol Barrow of Barbados and Michael Manley of Jamaica.

This ceremony, by private invitation only, will take place in the Barney Danson Theatre at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 23 at the Canadian War Museum – 1 Vimy Place, Ottawa.

Information (media):

Des Doran
English media relations
West Indian Second World War Veterans Association
Tel.: (613) 230-7280

Christina Selin
Senior Communications Officer
Canadian War Museum
Tel.: (819) 776-8607