Tomb to be moved
Nunavut takes part in Unknown Soldier burial

Maria Canton
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (Apr 10/00) - In one of his first duties as Commissioner of Nunavut, Peter Irniq handed over consecrated soil representing the people of Nunavut to members of the Royal Canadian Legion last week.

The Legion has undertaken the massive project of moving the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from France to Canada and, after two years, the project is set to end with a funeral procession and burial on May 28 in Ottawa.

But because the soldier is unknown -- neither his name nor the regiment he fought with are known -- soil from Canada's 10 provinces and three territories will be mixed and spread in the tomb, along with soil from the original grave.

Dominion secretary of the Royal Canadian Legion Duane Daly said moving the tomb will mark a significant and symbolic commitment to remembrance in Canada.

"We are instituting something that is going to last for hundreds of years; it will be in the nation's capital giving thanks for the sacrifices made," said Daly.

"There was reluctance to do this because it costs so much money, but the Legion decided to take this on as a millennium project."

The Legion has committed $400,000 to the project and the Millennium Bureau of Canada has put in another $90,000. The Canadian Forces will fly the soldier's remains back to Canada, and on May 25 the soldier will lay in state on Parliament Hill for two days.

On the May 28, a funeral procession will take place during which a horse-drawn gun carriage will take the remains through Ottawa to the National War Memorial, where they will be placed in a granite tomb with the soil.

The idea originally came about during the 50th anniversary year of World War II in 1995. During that year, the government instituted the Canada Remembers program to encourage remembrance in the country.

It was at that time that the Legion began pursuing their idea of establishing a Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The Royal Canadian Legion has 500,000 members.