OTTAWA, Feb. 10, 2013 /CNW/ - In honour of the Year of the Korean War Veteran, Canadian Armed Forces personnel and Veterans, as well as senators and members of Parliament, gathered for a scrimmage hockey game that commemorated the Imjin River Cup games played by Canadian soldiers during the Korean War in the winters of 1952 and 1953.
"While fighting in the Korean War, Canadian soldiers depended on the truly Canadian tradition of a hockey game for relief from the realities of war," said the Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs. "Re-enacting the historic games played on the Imjin River during the war is an excellent way to pay tribute to Canadian Veterans of the Korean War as we mark 2013 as the Year of the Korean War Veteran and the Year of Korea in Canada."
"I was proud to have been invited to play on the military team for this commemorative scrimmage and honour their contributions to our great nation. I'm sorry weather problems did not permit me to join the team in person," said the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence. "I knew parliamentarians had as much of a chance of beating those who serve, and served, in uniform as I have of stopping a Sidney Crosby breakaway."
"I was struck by the photos of Canadians playing hockey in the midst of war, and can only imagine what the original hockey games must have meant to them. The Imjin Classic during Winterlude is to honour the legacy of Canadians and that includes our game—hockey," said Senator Yonah Martin.
On the Imjin River in South Korea, just miles from the front lines, hockey was played on a makeshift rink the soldiers dubbed "Imjin Gardens." Hockey offered a little piece of normal Canadian life to those who served in a war-torn Korea. One of the most famous matches was the championship game between the 1st Battalion of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry and the 2nd Battalion of the Royal 22e Régiment (the "Van Doos"), held on March 11, 1952. The tradition they began is carried on each winter in Korea to this day.
"When I spoke with a Veteran who actually played on the Imjin in 1952, he said, 'it was great, just like being home again, playing shinny.' Long ago we called it 'shinny' or pond hockey and road hockey," said Bill Black, President of Unit 7 of the Korea Veterans Association of Canada in Ottawa.
The Korean War began on June 25, 1950, when North Korean forces invaded South Korea, beginning hostilities that lasted more than three years. Canada sent more than 26,000 men and women to Korea, and 516 Canadians who served during the war made the ultimate sacrifice. They joined 15 other United Nations countries in their combat efforts to try to restore peace.
Ceasefire negotiations began in 1951, two years before the fighting finally ended, with the signing of the Armistice at Panmunjom on July 27, 1953. Following the Armistice, approximately 7,000 Canadians continued to serve in Korea until the end of 1955, with some troops remaining until 1957.
More information on the Korean War can be found on the Veterans Affairs Canada Web site at veterans.gc.ca.
SOURCE Veterans Affairs Canada
Image with caption: "Minister Steven Blaney, captain of the Parliamentary team, stands behind Senator Yonah Martin and Korean Ambassador Hee-yong Cho, who hold the Imjin River Memorial Cup. Parliamentarians and military members played a friendly game of pond hockey on the Rideau Canal in honour of Canadian Korean War Veterans.(CNW Group/Veterans Affairs Canada)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20130210_C4430_PHOTO_EN_23508.jpg